According to the unsealed federal indictment, members of The Sevens gang in Reading used violence and intimidation to keep women and girls under their control, forcing them to sell themselves to men in Reading and other parts of Berks County.
“It’s shocking. It’s absolutely shocking. It’s depraved,” said U.S. Attorney Bill McSwain.
He listed some of the allegations detailed in the 53-page indictment: “One victim was held down while her hair was cut with gardening shears. It details how another victim, a minor, was forced to have a sexual encounter with a gun to her head.”
He said that girl was also assaulted with a hammer and a baton, then locked naked in a dog kennel.
Among the charges in the 22-count indictment: racketeering, sex trafficking by force, coercion of a minor, production of child pornography and attempted murder. One person is also charged with murder.
William Walker, acting special agent in charge for Homeland Security Investigations in Philadelphia, added the indictment is a win, but there’s a lot more to be done.
“This case underscores the cruel and almost ironic reality of human trafficking,” he said. “It is incredibly difficult to detect but it is a crime that truly does exist in plain sight of the public.”
If convicted, McSwain believes each would face a mandatory minimum of 15 years in prison, but they could be facing life behind bars.
He said the investigation is ongoing and additional charges could follow, but his primary goal at this point is shutting down the organization.
The charged individuals include: Shaquile Newson, 26; Alexander Malave, 28; Karvarise Person, 30; Fatiema Bivens, 28; Isaiah Rowe, 21; James Goode, 44; Yojang Torres-Rosario, 26; Richard Poulson, 26; Jessica Lopez, 39; Ryan Nunez, 23; Tyashia Monroe, 19; Wendy Espada, 28; and Michael Diaz-Walker, 32.