By Tony Hanson
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Drugs and sex and human trafficking — slavery in Philadelphia. A 52-year-old Philadelphia man has been sentenced to 15 to 30 years in prison for buying selling, and holding women for a prostitution ring in 2009 and beyond.
One victim, a former prostitute and drug addict, has testified she was lured to a Northeast Philadelphia hotel with the promise of work, but once there she was beaten and threatened. A gun was put to her head, and they threatened to hurt her family if she caused trouble. And she watched as her captors paid cash to one another to own her.
Prosecutor Joseph McGlynn says authorities have identified about a dozen women, but computer images showed the sad faces of many more unidentified women. McGlynn says defendant John Lee was profiting from misery.
“These adds include women who he has made to smile and then you see other images of them completely naked and in the throes of addiction and their eyes rolled back in their head. So, to wrap your head around what this crime means is a really difficult thing.”
Judge Gwendolyn Bright, who has called the crimes wretched and appalling, heard prison tapes that showed Lee continued to be part of the operation from prison until at least March of this year.
Authorities say two other people have been charged in other jurisdictions and there are ongoing investigations.