Howard police: Traffic stop leads to human trafficking arrest

A Pikesville man was arrested during a traffic stop early Thursday morning when Howard police learned that he was allegedly trafficking as many as nine women for prostitution.

William O. Murray, 29, was charged with multiple counts of human trafficking and prostitution, police spokeswoman Sherry Llewellyn said, and later released from the county jail on $15,000 bond.

Around 1:30 a.m. on March 23 near Snowden River Parkway and Route 108 in Columbia, police said, officers stopped Murray, who they said looked like he was having a drug-related medical emergency.

As officers prepared to take Murray to the hospital, they also found a 34-year-old female passenger in the car, Llewellyn said, who they believed to be a human trafficking victim.

During the investigation, detectives learned that Murray had placed ads on a website that police said is often used to solicit prostitution, and then scheduled appointments, forcing women to perform sex acts for money. In addition to taking the money, police said Murray would also give the women heroin or withhold drugs, while controlling when they could eat and sleep.

Police said the victims – who were transported to areas across the state – were also forced to stay awake for prostitution. Murray was arrested after his release from the hospital around 4 a.m., and was found with $500 and multiple cellphones.

Police said the passenger was given emergency assistance, drug treatment and shelter provided by local service organizations, as detectives continue the investigation. Anyone with information is asked to call 410-313-STOP or HCPDcrimetips@howardcountymd.gov.

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