Brookville Borough Police Department Leads Charge Against Sex Trafficking


BROOKVILLE, Pa. (EYT) – The Brookville Borough Police Department is leading a charge in the battle against sex trafficking in our region with a dozen arrests over the last few months, five of them last week alone.

According to Brookville Borough Police Chief Vince Markle (pictured above), it all began with a seminar on sex trafficking, with Diane Brant as the main speaker. Following the seminar, Chief Markle came up with the idea of starting an investigation in the Brookville area, and approached one of his officers, Officer Turnbull, who he says is “well-versed in manipulating computers.”

Chief Markle had Officer Turnbull set up some digital bait and see what kind of response they would get; however, he wasn’t expecting the feedback they received, though.

“Within the first 24 hours, we had over 20,000 views and by the end of the week, we had over 60,000 views and had arrested three people,” Markle told exploreClarion.com.

“We got an overwhelming number of views and responses and realized, wow, this really is a serious problem.”

According to Markle, in each of the cases, the suspect has been the one to reach out to Officer Turnbull, who they believe to be a pimp prostituting or selling juvenile females.

While trafficking isn’t a new problem, a law signed into effect late last year gave Pennsylvania its first comprehensive legal definition of human trafficking. Chief Markle noted that under the new human trafficking laws, there have only been three other arrests in the state to date: one in the Philadelphia area and two in Lycoming County.

“This is new ground for us, and it takes a whole team of people to make it happen,” he noted.

“The Jefferson County’s District Attorney’s office has been a huge asset to us because we’re calling them constantly, making sure we’re conducting arrests and investigations properly.”

Markle said they’ve also been in communication with the state Attorney General’s office in relation to the investigation.

While there are some aspects of the investigation that Chief Markle was unable to share, such as what websites or internet applications they are utilizing, he did state that he believes this is just the beginning.

“We have all been going to the seminars and trainings on trafficking, and you listen to the people talk about and tell about it, but to actually arrest these people and interview them is very scary. It does exist. It is out there. We’re just a small department, but the thing that makes our department stand out is we have a very aggressive department, and we have a lot of officers here that are extremely hard-working,” explained Markle.

“We will continue arresting these predators as long as they continue responding to us. This is one of those things that you can’t turn a blind eye to. I think the majority of the people in our area don’t want to believe it. I think they’re trying to turn a blind eye to it, and society is good at doing that with a lot of things. I think this is one of those topics, one of those things we have to take seriously and we all have to join in to combat it.”

According to Markle, the investigation has already netted a dozen arrests, including five within the last week, including one man who made a request that the officers in Brookville hadn’t heard previously.

“This past Saturday (January 26), we had an individual who drove to Brookville from three hours away in an attempt to purchase a 15-year-old girl, to own. He was driving here to buy her to own her, which then they put them into sex trafficking.”

Markle also noted that while sex trafficking is in itself a growing problem, it is also a crime that is also tied to many other crimes.

“The child pornography, the drugs, the human trafficking, it’s all in the same circle. When you arrest someone for one, there are usually others right there with it.”

“You’ll probably never even know how much of a danger these men posed, but we’re all exposed to the national news, and every day there are kids that come up missing and are never found. Every day. If our efforts save some of these children, we’re doing a great thing.”

While most of the men arrested thus far have admitted to attempting to meet with an underage girl for less than legal purposes after they’ve been caught, according to Markle, they tend to clam up beyond that admission.

“The interesting thing is when you interview these individuals, it’s always the first time they ever looked at it or the first time they ever came to meet anyone, but when they use the lingo and the abbreviations used in trafficking and prostitution, their own verbiage speaks volumes that they know what’s going on.”

Though the Brookville Borough Police Department is off to a strong start in the battle against trafficking in our region, the problem is a large one, and Chief Markle is well aware that this may be just the beginning.

“Anywhere you go, people are on their phones surfing the net, and you don’t know what they’re looking at or what they’re up to. I think with this access to everything going on in the world, it’s just alarming the number of people who are out there using the internet for sex. You look at your dating sites that are on the internet, and some are legit but some are trafficking or escort sites.”

“The disturbing thing is these predators, they know what girls to approach and how to get these girls to do what they want them to do through drugs or gifts or what have you, and statistically, most young girls who are runaways within 24 hours are selling their bodies for sex.”

With a battle this big, Chief Markle is hoping that other area department will join in the fight soon.

“We’re hoping that other agencies are going to reach out and jump on board with us. We are conducting a training on human trafficking arrests on February 28 at 9:00 a.m. at the Brookville Police Department. Hopefully, other departments will contact us and get signed up.”

Police officers aren’t the only ones who can help combat this growing problem, though. According to Chief Markle, every citizen is a resource.

“I would like the public to be a set of eyes for us. If you see something that doesn’t quite look right, notify law enforcement. Don’t wait and think you’re bothering anyone. We’d rather go check it out, and that’s anywhere. If you see a young girl and the situation doesn’t quite look right, notify someone.”

“We’re only as strong as everyone in our community, and it takes a whole community working together to keep each and every one of us safe.”

RELATED:

Sex Trafficking Sting Continues: Man Accused of Trying to Trade Adderall for Sexual Favors

Two More Sex Trafficking Suspects Busted; Five Accused Predators Arrested in Five Days

Brookville Police Make Another Bust in Undercover Sex Trafficking Sting

Jefferson County Man Busted in Undercover Sex Trafficking Sting

Undercover Internet Predator Sting Leads to Another Arrest in Brookville

Another Jefferson County Man Busted in Undercover Internet Predator Sting

Another Jefferson County Man Busted in Internet Predator Sting

Two Men Busted in Undercover Internet Predator Sting


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