Echoing the powerful message in “Sound of Freedom,” Chicago area authorities busted a human trafficking operation in the city’s outskirts and arrested five suspects.
The investigation began over a year ago when St. Charles police were tipped off that a brothel was operating near North 15th and Brook streets. What investigators found was shocking.
At least 10 victims were identified and are believed to have been transported from South America to the United States. They were held against their will in several locations around metro Chicago and threatened with physical harm if they did not comply with their captors’ demands.
Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser noted that investigators were quick to recognize the situation as human trafficking. It was not simply another incidence of prostitution and the young women merely criminals.
The chain of brothels apparently operated in St. Charles, Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, Hanover Park, Palatine and South Elgin. The victims, according to St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan, were between their early 20s to early 30s.
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Keegan said the investigation “was like an onion. The more we peeled back, the more it stunk and this is something that is prevalent in our society and society can’t [turn] a deaf ear to it.”
He further explained that if law enforcement did not take into account the human trafficking angle of the crimes, they would simply charge the victims with prostitution. That merely results in the traffickers moving to a different location.
One neighbor told local media, “You never know. You don’t know who your neighbors are.”
One woman and four men are accused of trafficking. They are specifically charged with Involuntary Servitude, Trafficking in Persons and Promoting Prostitution.
According to police they are 57-year-old Martha Hurtado-Hernandez of Chicago, 26-year-old Daniel Hurtado of Elgin, 46-year-old Rigoberto Parra of Aurora, 27-year-old Christian Hurtado of Elgin and 54-year-old Hector Briseno of Chicago.
All five suspects are to appear in court this week and are being held on $5 million bonds. Authorities believe there may be several more persons involved in the trafficking operation as well as more victims and report the investigation continues.