At a press conference in Oneida on Friday, state police and child welfare officials talked about this week's arrests of nine people in an investigation of a sex trafficking ring in Central New York.
State Police investigators say they believe there are eight to ten more female victims who were used as prostitutes. They are not all underage, although investigators say it's likely they started when they were younger runaways.
Troopers and representatives of the Oneida County Child Advocacy Center were present at the press conference.
On Wednesday, three people from the Utica area, were accused of using the online classified advertising site Backpage.com to advertise throughout the Northeast for sex with an underage victim.
Siblings Lynette Tilden and Edward Tilden and another woman, Alexandria Davall, are charged with felony trafficking. Two additional men were charged with rape, two others with endangering the welfare of a child and another two of engaging in a criminal sex act.
The case involved a 16-year-old girl who was a runaway and returned to the Utica area in February. Oneida County District Attorney Scott McNamara said on Thursday that a taxi driver, Jakeem E. Penn, brought the girl to Duvall who then introduced the girl to prostitution in exchange for room and board. McNamara said the girl was then sold to the Tildens who marketed her on Backpage.com.
Officials say Lynette Tilden and Alexandria Davall also advertised themselves on Backpage.com and would set up dates with the girl under their names. The trio is accused of running the sex trafficking ring beyond Central New York including places along the east coast such as Albany, New York City, Connecticut and Florida.
Officials say two of the others who were arrested, Rosheen A. Brooks and Michael J. Curcio, supplied drugs to Lynette Tilden and Davall, in exchange of sex. The women forcibly gave the 16-year-old girl the drugs.
Troopers urged anyone who was a victim or knows of other victims to come forward.
Officials say that they believe there are more victims.
(Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.)