OAN’s Roy Francis
12:17 PM – Saturday, July 22, 2023
At least five individuals were arrested after a human trafficking operation was uncovered in the Chicago area.
The investigation, which began in the spring of 2022 when St. Charles police received information about a brothel near North 15th and Brook streets, involved numerous law enforcement agencies according to the Kane County’s Attorney Office.
“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 sex acts and treated as offenders and not victims,” Jamie Mosser, Kane County State’s Attorney said. “A lot of times when law enforcement goes in, especially if they focus on this, for what the victim is doing, they considered a sex act, and they charged them with prostitution, all that causes the traffickers to get up and go into a different location.”
According to the charging documents, the suspects had conspired to subject the victims to “commercial sexual activity by causing or threatening physical harm.”
At least 10 victims were identified, who were being brought from South Africa to the United States, and were held against their will at various locations throughout the area.
According to law enforcement, the investigation had uncovered that the trafficking and prostitution rings were widespread with alleged brothels operating in Aurora, Chicago, Elgin, Hanover Park, Palatine, and South Elgin.
James Keegan, the St. Charles Police Chief, said that victims, who ranged in age from early-20s to early-30s, were located at those locations and have been taken into protective custody.
“There were two or so victims at each location,” he said. “And each of those victims were 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 commended the work of police and said that the investigation is ongoing and that it will likely results in more traffickers being arrested and more victims rescued.
The suspects who have been arrested consisted of four men and one woman who were identified as 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.
The suspects all appeared in court and are currently being held on $5 million bonds.
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