Camden County Prosecutor Mary Eva Colalillo and Gloucester Township Police Chief Harry Earle reported a human trafficking case believed to be the first successfully prosecuted in Camden County has resulted in state prison sentences for two people.

Van F. Howell, M/43, of Sicklerville, and Krista M. Burton, F/31, of Philadelphia, were each sentenced to five years of incarceration for conspiracy to commit human trafficking.

Howell and Burton lured the victim, a then 26-year-old North Carolina woman, to engage in prostitution in New Jersey.  After paying for the victim’s bus ticket to New Jersey, the defendants posted an advertisement for the victim’s services as a prostitute on an Internet site.

Howell and Burton made it clear to the woman that she was expected to earn money for them through the sex trade and caused the victim to believe she would suffer consequences if she did not.  The defendants took control of the victim’s cell phone and left her without the means to leave.

The defendants were arrested following a joint Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and Gloucester Township Police prostitution sting at a township motel on January 24, 2014. The operation was coordinated through the state’s Human Trafficking Task Force.

“I applaud the efforts of all involved in the arrest of these offenders including our collaboration with the Camden County Prosecutor’s Office and for their aggressive prosecution of this case,” said Chief Earle.  “We will continue to conduct operations targeting those who exploit others while at same time focusing on those that have been victimized by these types of predators.   It is important that we continue this effort on a broader level to not only stop the victimization, but to also help shed light on these crimes often not seen by many members of the public.”

Burton was sentenced today before Superior Court Judge Gwendolyn Blue.  She pleaded guilty to one count of second-degree conspiracy to commit human trafficking on March 2.

Howell was previously sentenced on May 21.  He pleaded guilty to the same offense as Burton on March 9.

“We will continue to fervently investigate these types of crimes and prosecute offenders who prey on some of society’s most vulnerable members,” said Assistant Prosecutor Ira Slovin, who handled the case. “We’re pleased these defendants were sentenced to state prison. We are proud of the thorough investigation conducted by my office, Gloucester Township Police and our law enforcement partners.”

Released Friday, June 5, 2015.