PHILADELPHIA – A Reading woman has admitted to her role in the sex trafficking of children in Berks County.
Melissa Madera pleaded guilty to multiple charges of child exploitation and pornography, according to the U.S. attorney’s office.
Madera, 27, forced two girls, ages 15 and 17, to meet with “sex buyers” at motels in Muhlenberg Township and Wyomissing between August and October 2017, charging the customers $200 per hour, authorities said.
The feds added that Madera plied the girls with drugs like Ecstasy and cocaine to ensure their compliance, enough so that they were sometimes unable to attend school the next day.
“Predators come in many different forms,” said Michael J. Driscoll, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Philadelphia Division. “Make no mistake, Melissa Madera fits that bill. She has now admitted to selling minors for sex, drugging them to maintain control of their minds and bodies. Such despicable treatment does serious lasting harm.”
Madera also obtained a sexually explicit image of one of the girls and used it to market her illegal services on a commercial sex trafficking website, officials said.
“Here, Madera advertised children like objects to be sold online and gave them drugs so that they weren’t in their right minds,” said U.S. Attorney William McSwain. “This is a parent’s worst nightmare.”
McSwain added that sex trafficking has become a serious problem in Pennsylvania’s eastern district, which includes Berks, Chester, Lancaster, and Lehigh counties.
“Its members protected their power and their territory through intimidation, violence, threats of violence, assaults, and even murder.”
“We are committed to rooting it out,” he said.
Last year and earlier this year, McSwain’s office handed up indictments against more than a dozen people after the raid of a rooming house on South Fourth Street in Reading. Authorities said the building served as the headquarters for a violent sex trafficking gang.