Editor’s note: This story has been updated with corrected information from the Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office. Officials initially said 10 victims were rescued, but the actual number is seven. Charges against the five defendants were also updated with correct information.
ST. CHARLES – St. Charles police, along with other law enforcement jurisdictions, announced the arrest of five people on felony charges of involuntary servitude and the rescue of seven women who were being sex trafficked in brothels in St. Charles, South Elgin, Elgin, Hanover Park, Palatine and Chicago.
At a news conference at police headquarters, St. Charles Police Chief James Keegan and Kane County State’s Attorney Jamie Mosser described how a report in early spring of a brothel operating in a west side apartment in St. Charles led to a months-long investigation of a human trafficking organized crime syndicate.
The various brothels all operated in apartments or private residences, Keegan said.
While he would not be specific about that first tip-off, Keegan said nobody knows a neighborhood like its residents.
“If you see something, say something,” Keegan said. “Let us do our jobs.”
Keegan said they served search warrants on all the locations, arrested four men and one woman and took the women into protective custody yesterday morning. The women, all from South America, ranged in age from their early 20s to early 30s and one was treated a local hospital, he said.
“They were brought into the United States for the sole purposes of being victimized and exploited,” Keegan said. “Some of these charges are Class X felonies. This sends a strong message to those contemplating similar behavior that this will not be tolerated in our communities, by law enforcement or prosecutors.”
Keegan said the investigation is ongoing.
Mosser said human trafficking is defined in the law as the use of force, fraud or coercion to obtain some type of labor or commercial sex acts.
“Every year, millions of men, women and children are trafficked worldwide – and this includes Kane County,” Mosser said. “It happens in every community with victims of all ages, races, genders and nationalities. This is a systemic problem that needs our focus in law enforcement on stopping the traffickers from continuing their criminal enterprises.”
Those charged were brothers Christian Hurtado, 27, and Daniel Hurtado, 26, of the 500 block of Holly Street, Elgin; Rigoberto Parra, 46, of the 1600 block of North Marywood Avenue, Aurora; Martha P. Hurtado-Hernandez, 57, and Hector Briseno, 54, both of the 4700 block of South Wood Street Chicago, officials said.
Associate Judge Salvatore LoPiccolo set bond for each at $5 million, requiring $500,000 or 10% needed to post as bail. They are scheduled to appear in court July 18, officials said.
The most serious charge each face, aggravated involuntary servitude, is a Class X felony, punishable by six to 30 years if convicted.
According to a news release, Mosser alleged that between Feb. 17 and July 19, the five defendants “engaged in a conspiracy to subject the ... victims to commercial sexual activity by causing or threatening physical harm to at least one of the victims.”
“The defendants procured locations for the commercial sexual activity, transported the victims to the locations to engage in the sexual activity and advertised that the victims were available for commercial sexual activity,” according to the release. “The defendants physically restrained the victims by confining them to a residence, intimidated the victims with threats if they did not engage in the sexual activity, and maintained financial control over the victims.”
Mosser commended First Assistant State’s Attorney Christine Bayer for her work in this case, as she prosecuted the first cases in Kane County under the Illinois trafficking statutes, securing several convictions.
“I wish 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,” Mosser said in the release. “The Kane County State’s Attorney’s Office is committed to working collaboratively with law enforcement to identify human trafficking and to eliminate it immediately.”
Assisting St. Charles’ lead in the investigation, all local police also participated, as did the sheriff’s offices of each county, state police, Department of Homeland Security, Kane County Forensic Division and the Attorney General’s Forensic Unit for providing additional technical support in analyzing evidence, according to the release.