Much has been written about the scourge of human trafficking in the United States and the Chicago area. Laws have been passed, with more on the way, social campaigns have been launched, websites and media reports have underlined the issue.
The problem is serious, real and right here, with Chicago listed among the top five national hubs for human trafficking.
So, when local law-enforcers combine their talents and resources with those of the federal government to stop those crimes in our community, it is action that merits attention and serves as a reminder of the meaning of April’s Child Abuse Prevention Month.
According to a Wednesday-afternoon city of Aurora press release, a joint investigation of Aurora Police Special Operations Group investigators and agents from the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations into sex crimes that victimize juveniles has led to charges against two men. Police also lodged prostitution charges against four women and another man during a two-day operation conducted March 26 and 27.
Anthone J. Caradine, 27, of the 1200 block of Grand Boulevard, Romeoville, and William Shyu, 30, of the 3000 block of Tangley Oaks Trail, Lisle, were each charged with involuntary sexual servitude of a minor, traveling to meet a minor, and grooming. The charges are all felonies, the most serious being the involuntary sexual servitude charge which is a Class-X felony that calls for enhanced penalties upon conviction.
During the operation, the investigators and agents targeted ads in an online publication that is known to promote prostitution-related activities. The advertisements purportedly offered sexual services and when the defendants called the telephone numbers listed, it was clear that the services were being offered by underage girls. Arrangements were then made for the men to meet the girls at an Aurora hotel and once they arrived, they were taken into custody.
A 17-year-old homeless girl from Texas was also rescued during the operation. She was turned over to the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services and placed into protective custody.
The operation also targeted ads in the same publication that promoted prostitution-related activities involving adults. Those charged with prostitution include Abelardo L. Lopez, 42, of the 800 block of Kane Street, Aurora; Charletta L. King, 29, of the 2500 block of North Manheim Rd., Franklin Park; Linda N. Houston, 23, of the 5500 block of Windy Knoll Drive, Loves Park; and Jasmine B. Jenkins, 26, of the 4000 block of Cottage Park Ct., Arlington, Texas; who all allegedly propositioned an undercover officer and agreed to exchange sexual services for money. There was no connection between Jenkins and the 17 year old female.
“These arrests should serve as a wake-up call to anyone considering participating in crimes that victimize children,” Aurora Police Chief Greg Thomas said. “We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners at all levels to eliminate these disgusting crimes from the city of Aurora.”
“HSI is committed to aggressively pursue heinous individuals who prey on society’s most vulnerable citizens – our children,” said Gary Hartwig, special agent in charge of HSI Chicago. “To that end, our special agents will continue to partner with state, local and other federal law enforcement agencies that also vigorously pursue individuals who seek to victimize children through sexual exploitation.”
Both Caradine and Shyu are being held in lieu of $400,000 bail at the Kane County Correctional Center in St. Charles. Caradine’s next court appearance is April 3; Shyu’s April 16 at the Kane County Judicial Center.
Police impounded six vehicles and seized about $1,000 during the operation. The Kane County Child Advocacy Center also assisted.
Police are not disclosing the location of the sting in order to protect the integrity of future operations. They add that the investigation is continuing.
The public is reminded that the charges are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.
SOURCE: City of Aurora press release