STROUDSBURG -- Monroe County detectives say 19 people were arrested after a recent prostitution bust at a Stroudsburg hotel.
Detectives say two of those arrested were actually victims themselves, women who were victims of human traffickers, forced into having sex for cash.
"When we encountered them Friday night, you could tell just in their eyes that they were thankful that they were arrested because they knew that it was finally over and that they could get the help that they needed,” said Detective Kim Lippincott of Monroe County.
Monroe County detectives say they've made more than a hundred prostitution-related arrests in the last year and a half. They say it's big business. After all, there are lots of businesses in the Poconos and tourists, too.
Beneath the surface, investigators say there are many victims of human trafficking, people who are coerced, blackmailed, beaten, and forced into work like prostitution.
"It's well known in the human trafficking world, places like New York City, Newark, the girls come here to make money because they know this is where the guys are going to pay more,” said Detective Lippincott.
At Stroudsburg Wesleyan Church, there's an effort to raise awareness and prevent human trafficking. There's a group there called Mission Possible: Help End Trafficking.
"It's always shocking. We want to bury our heads, but it is here. It is now. It is ongoing and we need to just face it and work on addressing the problem rather than pretending it doesn't exist,” said Rev. Angelique Labadie-Cihanowyz.
Detectives say they'll continue to work with those at the church and in the community to get the word out about trafficking.
"This is not 'Pretty Woman.' It's not. This is human trafficking. These women are being forced into doing what they're doing. The sex that is occurring in hotels in this area is not as consensual as one would think it is,” said Detective Lippincott.
Detective Lippincott says the two recent victims of trafficking have been taken to a safe house in the Lehigh Valley.
Victims of human trafficking are protected under United States and Pennsylvania law. The National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline is 1-888-373-7888.