Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said a human trafficking investigation that netted 35 arrests involved a team of four detectives and the Warren Police Department’s Special Operations Unit.

Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said a human trafficking investigation that netted 35 arrests involved a team of four detectives and the Warren Police Department’s Special Operations Unit.

Photo by Brian Louwers


Warren human trafficking investigation nets 35 arrests

By: Brian Louwers | Warren Weekly | Published May 17, 2019

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WARREN — Warren police made 35 arrests for crimes ranging from pimping to prostitution to narcotics violations as part of an undercover operation involving seven motels and one private home May 14-16.

During a press conference May 17, Warren Police Commissioner Bill Dwyer said 17 women and 18 men had been arraigned on a variety of charges, with bond set as high as $150,000 in some cases. The most serious crimes are felony offenses punishable by up to 20 years in prison.

Police said two victims located as a result of the investigation would not be charged with any crimes, and that the multi-phase operation remained ongoing.

Dwyer said the investigation involved a team of four detectives and the Warren Police Department’s Special Operations Unit. Both male and female undercover officers were deployed during the three-day operation.

“This is phase one. The mission was first to locate, identify and interview victims of human sex trafficking,” Dwyer said. “The second objective was to locate and arrest the sex traffickers of these victims.”

Dwyer added, “We feel as a result of this operation, we received significant intelligence information to assist us in our ongoing efforts to identify victims of human trafficking.”

Warren Police Detective Craig Bankowski, one of the officers in charge of the investigation, said victims of human trafficking are sometimes known to investigators as a result of interviews, social media or other intelligence. They can become victims through the manipulation of narcotics availability, preying on addiction and their health, or through physical abuse.

“I guess you could summarize it as the drugs are used as a fueling agent to keep them motivated to work and be lucrative, while the physical abuse is punishment for not performing or bringing in enough profit,” Bankowski said.

He said the two victims discovered as part of the investigation thus far, both young women, were identified as such after interviews with police. Both, he said, were later connected with resources available to help facilitate their recovery.

Dwyer said the management at all of the motel properties had been cooperative with police.

Bankowski said the operation involved properties across the city of Warren, and that prostitution or human trafficking activity is not confined to any area.

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