Pittsfield Police Arrest Two Men In Human Trafficking Investigation
The Pittsfield Police Department announced on Tuesday that two men were arrested on charges in connection with an ongoing human trafficking investigation.
Joseph VanWert, 65, of Pittsfield and Randy Lambach, 45, of Becket are being held without bail and are facing additional charges of deriving support from a prostitute, knowingly permitting prostitution on the premises, and sexual conduct for a fee according to a Facebook post from the PPD.
According to the Berkshire Eagle, the two men were allegedly part of a citywide prostitution ring, including one of whom possibly being as young as 15 years old. The Pittsfield Police Department noted that the investigation began in the spring of this year after an "increase in calls for service for prostitution and solicitation in certain sections of the city." It was also stated that the women recruited by Lambach were suffering from "severe addiction issues."
As arrests began to be made, the Pittsfield Police learned that, allegedly, there was more involved in the investigation.
"This investigation revealed that over several years, those charged have been involved in human trafficking," says a release by the Pittsfield Police. "The women were recruited by Lambach, then photographed and advertised on social media sites. Lambach facilitated meeting locations with prospective 'johns' and transported these women to specified locations. He would often wait nearby to take a portion of the earnings. He would also compensate the women with narcotics in lieu of cash. This included heroin, cocaine and prescription medication."
The investigation remains active and ongoing. The Pittsfield Police Department is asking for anyone with any information to contact Officer Brenna Dorr at 413-448-9700 ext 384.