Cook County

10 arrested in undercover human trafficking sting: Cook County Sheriff

“If you were to go to any of the sites right now – there is no mystery what is going.”

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Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Monday that a record number of people have been arrested for human trafficking following an undercover sting operation.

At a news conference, Dart stated that 10 people have been arrested and charged in two weeks. Among those arrested were four people accused of operating a brothel in an unincorporated Palatine apartment, authorities said. Others were taken into custody on charges including human trafficking, promoting prostitution, possession of child pornography, dissemination of child pornography and involuntary servitude.

While the arrests are a record, Dart contends the number would be much higher if the department had additional personnel.

"The only reason those are the numbers, that is how much personnel I have to put into this," the sheriff stated. "If I had more – I would make thousands more [arrests]."

Multiple people who were apprehended in the operation have been accused of promoting prostitution by posting on websites including ListCrawler and MegaPersonals, according to Dart.

The sheriff said he'll be sending letters to the websites' operators, asking them to work with his office to prevent human trafficking.

“If you were to go to any of the sites right now – there is no mystery what is going,” he said.

Dart previously worked to shut down for prostitution and human trafficking. In 2018, federal authorities shut down the website after a senate report found the website "knowingly concealed evidence of crimes.”

The sheriff says this investigation is ongoing, and counseling is being offered to victims.

“There is literally no end to the victims we come across,” he said. “We have an entire group that just works with the victims. We are just overwhelmed.”

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