FOX 32 Investigates Sex Trafficking: Chicago brothels - FOX 29 News Philadelphia | WTXF-TV

FOX 32 Investigates Sex Trafficking: Chicago brothels

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CHICAGO (FOX 32 News) -

Most people think of sex trafficking as it was dramatized in the hit movie Taken, where innocent people are kidnapped and forced into slavery in a foreign land, but that same brutality is what's happening in a neighborhood near you with homegrown victims.

A Chicago teenager, whose will remain anonymous, was held captive and forced into prostitution inside a house in the south suburbs after she ran away from home.

"They say it, you have to do it, if you don't, they'll kill you or they'll kill your family," the girl recalls. "In my room all I had was a bed, there was a chain from the bed to my ankle. A lot of times I would pray that the swat team would kick in the door. I wanted to go home."

"They were required to do 20, it was 20 johns a day," Sheriff Tom Dart says. "And if they didn't do it, they got their heroin cut off, they weren't fed, and they'd get beat."

Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez says, "There is domestic trafficking that we're seeing each and every day. And it involves women, young women, men, that are born and raised right here."

Just this past February, Alvarez charged three people with running a brothel in Schiller Park. She called it a "house of horrors" where women were sold, and controlled with drugs and beatings.

"The home was in a residential area," Alvarez explains. "A three flat and the neighbors weren't really sure that there was something illegal going on there."

A similar sad story happened in Little Village. Neighbors did not report the steady stream of men going in and out of a basement apartment, where 38-year-old Rubicela Montero was running a residential brothel in 2011.

"In that case we also saw a young girl, a high school girl, who this woman had picked up from school and brought over to the house," Alvarez says.

Maybe neighbors didn't want to see or get involved. One said he feared the trafficker might have friends who were bad guys. Then, of course, there is the age old attitude that accepts prostitution in a way.

Sheriff Dart says he gets more public outrage over the mistreatment of animals than a crime that is literally killing people.

"The numbers show seven years from the time they become a prostitute, is their life expectancy, so seven years on, they're usually dead," Dart says.

Lara Janson, a researcher and PhD candidate at the University of Chicago, studied the huge online community of "johns" that is thriving undercover on the internet.

While the general public may not know the brutal facts of sex trafficking, she says sex buyers do and are often part of it.

"Many men are aware of the harms that are experienced in prostitution but they purchase anyway," Janson says. "They report that when the fantasy they have about the way that the women should behave is broken, that they assert dominance and sometimes use violence to get what they want."

"I would go past brothels that had a line, that at 5 p.m. when a lot of construction workers got off work, the line would form," she continues. "And so neighbors know, often, so it's important to raise awareness of what those signs can mean."

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