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Press Release

Reading, PA Woman Pleads Guilty to Sex Trafficking Children

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Pennsylvania

PHILADELPHIA – United States Attorney William M. McSwain announced that Melissa Madera, 27, of Reading, PA pleaded guilty before United States District Court Judge Joseph F. Leeson, Jr. to multiple child exploitation and pornography offenses.

In August 2019, the defendant was charged by Indictment with two counts of sex trafficking minors, and one count each of distribution, receipt, and possession of child pornography. The charges stem from Madera’s trafficking of two children, 15-year-old and 17-year-old girls, from about August until October 2017. Madera forced the girls to engage in commercial sex for her own financial gain, and also plied the minors with drugs like Ecstasy and cocaine to ensure their compliance. Sometimes the girls would not make it to school the following day because they had been given so many drugs the previous night.

Madera also obtained a sexually explicit image of one of the girls and used it in a commercial sex trafficking website, advertising the minor for commercial sex acts using locations like the Quality Inn in Wyomissing, PA, and the Days Inn, Kleins’ Motel and Roadway Inn, all in Reading, PA. The defendant would rent two rooms at the hotel: one room was for the commercial sex acts and Madera would stay in the other after meeting the sex buyers and charging a fee of $200 per hour. After the 15-year-old’s mother reported her missing to the Reading Police Department in October 2017, Madera confronted the girl and assaulted her, stating “This is what you get for being a rat.”

“Sex trafficking is a serious problem in the Eastern District of Pennsylvania and we are committed to rooting it out,” said U.S. Attorney McSwain. “Here, Madera advertised children like objects to be sold online and gave them drugs so that they weren’t in their right minds. This is a parent’s worst nightmare.”

“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. The FBI is committed to finding and freeing trafficking victims and holding their tormentors accountable.”

The case was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Sherri A. Stephan.


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Updated September 3, 2020

Human Trafficking