Authorities arrested a minimum of five individuals after exposing a human trafficking operation in the Chicago area.
The investigation, initiated in the spring of 2022, stemmed from a tip received by the St. Charles police about a brothel located near North 15th and Brook Streets. Multiple law enforcement agencies collaborated in the inquiry, as reported by the Kane County’s Attorney Office.
Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser said, “I want to commend the St. Charles Police Department for recognizing this situation as human trafficking and not one in which people are simply charged for illicit acts and treated as offenders and not victims.”
According to the charging documents, the suspects had conspired to subject the victims to commercial activity by causing or threatening physical harm.
At least 10 victims were identified, who were brought from South Africa to the United States, and held against their will at various locations throughout the area.
Law enforcement revealed that the investigation had uncovered widespread trafficking rings, with alleged brothels operating in Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, Hanover Park, Palatine, and South Elgin.
James Keegan, the St. Charles Police Chief, stated that victims, whose ages ranged from early 20s to early 30s, were found at those locations and have been taken into protective custody.
Keegan said, “There were two or so victims at each location. And each of those victims was taken into protective custody. It was like an onion. The more we peeled it back, the more it stunk, and this is something that’s prevalent in society and society can’t tune a deaf ear to it.”
Mosser praised the efforts of the police and emphasized that the investigation is still ongoing, which may lead to the arrest of more traffickers and the rescue of additional victims.
Among those arrested were four men and one woman, identified as 57-year-old Martha Hurtado-Hernandez from Chicago, 26-year-old Daniel Hurtado from Elgin, 46-year-old Rigoberto Parra from Aurora, 27-year-old Christian Hurtado from Elgin, and 54-year-old Hector Briseno from Chicago.
A human trafficking operation has been uncovered in the Chicago area, with five individuals now facing charges for their involvement. https://t.co/40GI1mAZmU
— FOX 32 News (@fox32news) July 21, 2023
All of the suspects have made court appearances and are currently being held on bonds of $5 million each.