Two men in Pittsfield, Massachusetts, are facing charges for allegedly participating in a citywide prostitution ring involving multiple women, according to The Berkshire Eagle.
The Eagle on Tuesday reported that the men are Joseph E. Van Wert, 65, of Becket, Massachusetts, and Randy W. Lambach, 45, of Pittsfield.
The pair are being held on charges including human trafficking pending a dangerousness hearing on Nov. 29 to determine if bail should be set and in what amount.
Pittsfield police on Tuesday said that they began investigating the suspected ring in spring 2017 after they began getting calls and complaints about an apparent rise in prostitution citywide.
Authorities noted that many of the women involved in the operation had been recruited by a white male named “Randy.”
Law officers additionally began getting reports about suspected prostitution out of a senior living facility on North Street.
Police said that “Randy” had driven at least five women to and from Van Wert’s third-floor apartment there.
Officials were given the license plate of a blue station wagon used for transporting the women and identified as Lambach’s.
Witnesses then identified Lambach via photographs as the men they had known as “Randy” prior to his arrest.
“Randy” would seek out women with drug addiction, take their pictures and then post advertisements about them online.
Police were told that the advertisements were aimed at seeking clients for sexual services, and they noticed most of the activity seemed centered around four streets in Pittsfield.
Lambach allegedly recruited and transported at least 11 women for prostitution, providing them with drugs in exchange for most of the money they earned.
Van Wert allegedly paid for sex with the women, and he was also allegedly paid in cash and drugs by Lambach to use the former’s apartment.
Lambach has pleaded not guilty in Central Berkshire District Court to four counts of human trafficking.
Van Wert has pleaded not guilty to conspiracy to commit human trafficking and deriving support from prostitution.
The Becket, Massachusetts, resident also entered the same plea on charges of maintaining a house of prostitution and sexual conduct for a fee.