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tv   Sex Slaves - The Windy City  MSNBC  April 7, 2013 7:00pm-8:00pm PDT

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from the mean streets of chicago's south side -- >> don't do me like that, man. >> -- to the affluent suburbs of chamburg, illinois -- >> let's go. >> -- the underground sex trade is booming in the midwest. >> gang members are no longer selling sex any longer. they're selling children. >> all the young girls were branded. >> they are literally slaves. >> you know what's going to happen then, right? >> but what are the real human costs for the women that service this billion-dollar industry? >> you won't have to worry about this [ bleep ] no [ bleep ]
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more. period. >> it has a psychological effect, a mental effect, and the girls are being hardened by it more and more. >> [ bleep ]. >> police, come on out. >> tonight msnbc travels with the cooke county human trafficking task force. >> how much dope do you do a day? >> quite a bit. >> and meet the women and girls who pay the harsh price for what some call a victimless crime. on a warm chicago afternoon the streets are crowded with tourists, browsing the merchandise along the magnificent mile. but just a few blocks away this motel plays host to a different kind of commodity. sex for sale. >> what do you want? >> chicago police have arrested
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this woman for soliciting prostitution. it's her third such arrest in as many months. >> just take me to jail. what the [ bleep ]. >> you can scream all you want -- >> i'm going to do whatever i've got to do. i don't care. i don't care! >> keep screaming -- >> i don't care. >> we will learn much more about her case in a moment, for stories like hers are all too common in the underground sex trade. >> public safety is our main concern. and this is not something that we want as a society. >> domestic sex trafficking is a crisis that occurs right here in our very own community. >> cook county state's attorney anita alvarez leads the county's human trafficking task force. a joint effort between local police and prosecutors to crack down on slavery rings in chicagoland. >> what we've seen here in cook county, the trend that we're starting to see really are the gangs. the gang structure. >> gang members are not just selling drugs any longer. they're selling children. >> and the gangs are getting
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involved in this because they have discovered that this is lucrative. >> alvarez's task force is one of the nation's most progressive law enforcement efforts in the fight against traffickers. >> today we are announcing the result of a long-term undercover investigation. >> in the summer of 2011 operation little girl lost culminated with a massive takedown of a gang-related pimping ring. it is the largest human trafficking case in illinois's history. >> this operation targeted gang members who sex trafficked children and young women, some as young as the age of 12. >> each of the ten defendants faces over 20 counts of human trafficking. >> this is something that we take very seriously. we're going to continue to work up these cases, use the tools that we now have, and hopefully we're going to be convicting the bad guys. >> but long before the lights and the cameras of a high-profile press conference comes the nitty-gritty of good policework. >> a lot of the public believe that it's a victimless crime.
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>> chicago pd sergeant tracy walker will lead today's investigation. >> the goal is to recover any juveniles who are out here being forced into prostituting. >> she says the real victims of prostitution are the girls and young women trapped in the life. >> they're not doing it because they want to. they're being controlled. every day they wake up to someone who is forcing them to sell their bodies. >> shortly after 1:00 p.m. the team rolls out to set up a hotel sting downtown. even in the broad daylight police expect the action to be brisk. >> it's a 24/7 business. daytime, night, doesn't matter. they're out here. >> undercover officers set up shop in adjoining hotel rooms and immediately begin trolling the internet for women advertising sex for sale. >> right now we're looking for specifically outcalls. outcall means they will come to
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me. incall means i would go to them but i'm looking for an out call. >> do you have any time today? >> in the age of the internet police say ordering up sex has become as easy as ordering a pizza. >> is that you in the pictures? >> whatever you like. height, weight, frame, body build. you know, ethnicity. and make the phone call. that doesn't always mean that what you're calling up is what you're going to get. but it's so much easier for these guys. >> i called this one here. >> trolling the web for out calls police stumble upon an ad for a woman who was already set up in this very hotel doing in calls. >> lasalle and superior. in calls, 24/7. [ bleep ]. [ bleep ]. >> the undercover will make contact with the woman, whose name is chastity. >> hey, chastity. >> officers stationed outside the hotel are advised to keep a low profile and not blow the cover off the operation. >> 10-4. >> okay. great. you know what? are you downtown? okay. >> the undercover confirms that
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chastity is working in the hotel. but he'll have to call her once more to get her exact location. >> i am not going to know where this girl is at. i'm going to have no idea until i call. and i may not even know then. okay? she may tell me -- you know, she may tell me go up to the second floor and i'll wave you in. or we don't know, we have no idea. so we have to play it all by ear. >> give me two guys. is all i need. >> at the same time undercovers also have a second date on the way. >> my girl might be coming. she sees that camera, she's running. >> the team must now scramble to make two simultaneous takedowns. >> all right. unit on outside, we have possibly two girls in this hotel. outside unit, be aware. he's talking to the girl. she's right around here somewhere. so keep an eye out. >> the woman directs the undercover to room number a-3 just as sergeant walker spies a man who may be her pimp exiting
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the same room. >> and he has something to do with her. >> as the undercover makes his way to a-3, the suspected pimp walks to a car next to our camera. >> put the camera down. >> the car next to you. a white dodge charger. he's getting into the vehicle now. >> the unusual circumstance temporarily blocks our view of what happens next. as the woman in a-3 is arrested for prostitution and the man in the white car is cuffed for pimping. the young woman is brought into the processing room, where she is identified as a 21-year-old from toledo, ohio. >> basically, i went into the room. she told me to take and put the donation on the desk. on the table. okay? and she told me on the phone it was $200 for an hour of her time. then she began to undress. i asked her for additional sexual favors. okay? she agreed to it.
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and i told her i was the police, and i saying nald f and i signaled for my backup. >> is $200 the going rate for sex with a girl? >> if varies. you can go anywhere from $60 up to -- i mean, if you're talking centerfolds and stuff like, that you're talking thousands of dollars. >> that's my last name. >> while chastity is processed undercovers quickly reset the trap. other women are on the way. >> into your face. >> you know what's going to happen then, right? >> i don't give a[ bleep ]. what? book me. what the [ bleep ] you mean? [ both ] ugh! when it came to our plants... we were so confused. how much is too much water? too little? until we got miracle-gro moisture control. it does what basic soils don't by absorbing more water, so it's there when plants need it. yeah, they're bigger and more beautiful. guaranteed. in pots. in the ground. in a ukulele. are you kidding me? that was my idea.
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oh, he's here. great. >> cook county's human trafficking task force is set up downtown at a cheap tourist motel, conducting undercover prostitution stings. the day's first catch is a
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21-year-old going by the name chastity. like most young women in her position, chastity has few words for the police. >> as a law enforcement officer our job is to rescue the girls. but you know, it's very difficult to gain their trust. >> we are looking for girls who are under age. do you know of any girls that are under age -- >> no. i work by myself. >> you work by yourself. you don't have any other women that work with you? >> mm-mm. >> who turned you on to back page? >> i turned myself on to it. >> so you figured that all out by yourself nobody introduced you to it or told you all about it? >> they don't self-identify. they don't identify themselves as victims. so they don't know. >> police arrested chastity's suspected pimp, brent colehoffer, in the parking lot. this is colehoffer's second pimping arrest in two months. but she now denies any connection to him. >> they always want to protect the guy, the trafficker or the pimp, whoever they're working for.
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that's just the nature of the game. they'll take the heat, and he'll continue to do what he does. >> just a few minutes after chastity as rest police nab another young woman for soliciting sex. >> you have nothing else in the room here? >> no. >> come follow me. >> this is 20-year-old sandy's first arrest. but she gives up nothing. detectives suspect that she too is under the thumb of a pimp. >> it's not their choice. and unfortunately, some of the girls fall on bad situations. and they look at this as an easy means to make money. but it has a psychological effect, a mental effect, and it has health issues behind it. the girls are being hardened by it more and more. >> the adverse psychological effects are on full display in the next arrest. this woman is unwittingly on her way up to the sting room. where she'll be arrested for soliciting prostitution.
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>> toss me that purse. >> hey. >> this is sasha's third arrest for prostitution in as many months. >> what do you want? all right. well -- >> hey. relax. >> i am relaxed. you're not relaxed if you're putting your hands on me. don't touch me. >> time out. >> get your hands off of me. >> you are under arrest. you are under arrest -- >> hey. >> i'll spit in your face. >> you know what's going to happen then, right? >> i don't give a [ bleep ]. what? book me! what the [ bleep ] you mean? get off my butt. >> you're not going to kick my -- >> no, you're hurting me. i already said my [ bleep ] was [ bleep ] up. so stop -- >> don't kick anybody. >> well, don't [ bleep ] put your hands on me. just take me to jail. >> it's not going to go the way you want. you can scram all you want -- >> i'm going to do whatever i've got to do, so -- i don't care. we're in the same place. >> you're going to be in the same place -- >> exactly. so what does it matter?
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>> if you scream -- >> right. i don't care. i don't care! >> inside sasha's purse police find condoms but only a few dollars. they suspect this may be her first date of the day. >> i want all my [ bleep ] back in my purse. i'll keep it to a minimum as soon as i'm in jail. lock me up right now. that's what you called me for, right? you called me over here to set me the [ bleep ] up. that's what you did! >> you set yourself up. >> i set myself up. you're right! so take me to jail! why am i still here? >> it's not going to go the way you want it. >> i'm ready! i'm ready! let's go! i'm ready! it's nothing! what the [ bleep ]? call another bitch. she'll be here. she'll be right back out again. and a trick will call me again. and he going to be right back out again too. what the [ bleep ]? >> after a few minutes of fireworks it suddenly occurs to us that we've actually seen sasha before. when we filmed her being
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arrested for prostitution just three months prior. >> have you been arrested before? >> yes, i have. >> for the same thing? >> yeah. >> at the time of that arrest sasha's demeanor was quiet and subdued. but today it appears the 27-year-old is growing sick and tired of life in the game and she directs this message to the young women in the room. >> they're going to keep on arresting you. it doesn't matter. they're going to let all the tricks go. they're going to call you again tomorrow. and they're going to be -- and you're going to go to jail and they're going to go back to work. >> our producer grace kahn reaches out to sasha. >> are you doing this against your will? >> yeah. yes, i am. >> do you need help? >> no, i don't! >> who's making you do this? huh? who's making you -- >> it doesn't [ bleep ] matter. i'm the one getting -- going to jail any [ bleep ] way. >> yes, you are. >> right. so leave me the [ bleep ] alone just take me to where i have to go.
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>> well, you shouldn't have -- >> well, who gives a [ bleep ]? that's what happens. >> we're trying to give a care. >> ain't nobody give a [ bleep ] care. >> in a way they believe that police don't care, that people don't care. you're arrested time and time again. and the police aren't going after the trafficker or the individual who has you out here doing it. so you know, in a sense you believe that. >> just take me to jail. why am i sitting here with all these people? >> i'm doing a documentary. >> i don't give a [ bleep ] what you're doing. >> i just want to know how long have you been doing this? >> i've been doing it all my [ bleep ] life. i wake up, i wash my ass, somebody ask me to go out. i pay for school. you get married, you're still doing the same [ bleep ] thing. so why are the cameras on me for? what the [ bleep ] am i trafficking? >> we're worried about you. >> i'm not worried about [ bleep ]. don't worry about me. if you were so worried about me why the [ bleep ] am i in handcuffs? >> because of what you're -- >> okay, okay, it's illegal. all right. it is illegal. it's illegal. okay.
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go on the [ bleep ] websites, go on the [ bleep ] street. hire all the [ bleep ] men and see what the [ bleep ] they do. they do the same [ bleep ] thing. so what the [ bleep ]? >> no, i think the men are criminals, too. >> all right. so [ bleep ] take me to jail and you won't have to worry about this [ bleep ] no [ bleep ] more. period. >> are you going to be done? >> yes, i will. i'll do whatever the [ bleep ] i've got to do in jail like i'm doing here. >> does somebody take all your money? >> yeah. >> so you don't get to keep anything? >> you see he already got my money and my [ bleep ] there in the purse. so obviously, i don't have [ bleep ]. okay? >> for the younger women under arrest sasha's outburst appears to be only a source of amusement. >> grab my [ bleep ] jacket and my [ bleep ] purse unless you're going to keep that [ bleep ] taos, huh? >> until detectives remind them that they may be looking at their own futures. >> you called my ass to come here in the first place.
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>> it's kind of funny when you're watching it from the outside, but you ladies don't want to end up there. >> what i see are girls on the street corner and in hotels working hours, hours a day. you've been abandoned by family members, who don't want anything to do with you because of the life you choose to live. just imagine, though. imagine living that life. >> shut your bitch ass up. >> chevy impala. come and get them. >> guys pull up they expect you to come right in because that the what's girls do. they're very demanding. girl, get in. bitch, get in. today, the beaches and gulf are open for everyone to enjoy. we've shared what we've learned, so we can all produce energy more safely. bp's also committed to america. we support nearly two-hundred-fifty thousand jobs and invest more here than anywhere else. we're working to fuel america for generations to come. our commitment has never been stronger.
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only from progressive. friday night in the windy city. and while most chicagoans hunker down to escape winter's chill, the men and women of chicago's human trafficking unit prepare to head out. >> these girls out here are living on the streets. and so they're not taking the very best care of themselves. >> an officer we'll call amy prepares to go undercover,
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posing as bait for men who buy sex in the city's notoriously violent south side. >> i try to make my skin look as bad as possible, and i just use regular old makeup and i just try to look a little rough. >> let's do this. >> we're going to be going to 7th tonight. 7th district is still a very dangerous place. gangbangers pick up prostitutes too, and a very good chance somebody could be armed while they're engaged in this activity. >> district commander kenneth angerone is not mincing words. tonight's operation is in englewood, which is one of america's most dangerous places. last year alone there were 56 murders in the three-square-mile neighborhood. >> our people are highly trained to do undercover work. however, the chances of things going wrong are very prevalent. so as you can see, we bring a lot of manpower to the table. >> if we see juveniles out there, we're going to be trying to do some recoveries, trying to do some debriefings. >> clearly, if there's that kind of aw danger for police
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officers, for a juvenile to be involved in that life it's very high risk, very dangerous situation. >> armed with bulletproof vests, radios, and their weapons, the unit makes the short drive to englewood. >> tonight we're going to do a pickup operation where the undercover officers are going to go and pick up any girls who are soliciting prostitution. and then after that is completed we're going to put the decoy out and arrest any johns. >> it's going to be on this block right here and put her hood up and the distress is going to be the two hands up. >> officer carl takes the lead in the command car. his job is to communicate with amy. >> we're ready. >> okay. she's going to step out. she's stepping out. >> a few hundred yards down the road sergeant walker stays alert to spot and neutralize any potential threat to the undercover. >> okay. she is out. she is out. >> while the temperature outside
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drops, tension inside rises. as soon as amy hits the pavement. >> okay. you've got a pickup truck turning the corner. >> within minutes the undercover attracts interest. >> she's walking to the car right now. >> and it is down. it's down. come and get him. it is down. >> as the decoy signals officers, patrol cars move in on the unsuspecting buyer. >> y'all got cameras on me? [ bleep ]. i'm trying to holla at a female. >> stunned, the man says he was just trying to sweet-talk the undercover. amy says men who buy women often act with aggression and like to wield power. >> the guys pull up, they expect you to jump right in. because that's what the girls do. and they're very demanding. girl, get in. bitch, get in. you know, they say all types of things. and you playing a role, so you accept this stuff and you try to find ways to not get in the car. >> the first guy was a dub for
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head. >> a dub is $20. $20 for a blow job. these guys, man, i swear. in englewood, where it's low income, you have those girls who will settle for that. but you know, it's disgraceful. >> okay. we have a maroon chevy impala. she's walking over to the vehicle. >> it's 7:00 p.m., and the decoy has another buyer. >> let's go, let's go. >> come and get a maroon chef you why impala. it is down. >> i.d. >> this man doesn't have his own i.d. and doesn't even own the car he's driving. >> call them right now. >> we'll go over and see him. >> okay. come on. >> not you. you ain't going. >> they all wanted either head, which is oral copulation, or you know, sex. sexual intercourse. >> it's a black four-door ford escort. >> okay. >> it's down. >> come and get him. it's down. >> if they weren't out here cushing their vehicle for each
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girl on the street, then you know, the girls wouldn't be out here like this. in this case the guy didn't even have any cash. he offered her crack cocaine. it just lets you know how bad it is out here. you have women out here who are substance abusers, and these johns who are patronizing these women, they know that they have a habit and they're out here feeding that habit. >> it raises a great deal more concern because their safety is at risk. you know, not just healthwise but physically. you never know what's going to happen. guys are walking up, a lot of guys walked up, wanted me to go with them to an alley or follow them home, whatever. and these girls do that. >> silver-colored chevy impala. she's engaged in conversation. >> this john tells amy to meet him in the alley. >> it's down. come and get him. >> but before he reaches the alley officers swoop in. >> he's driving eastbound. i see him at the corner. >> i don't buy no pussy, man.
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>> you don't need to, right? do you need to? >> no. i'm a manly man. >> just relax. >> oh, my god, man. >> take it easy. >> the last guy was a dub for a [ bleep ] and a suck. >> i swear to god, man. don't do me like that. >> for this buyer tonight's price tag will far exceed the $20 he was offering amy. >> please don't do me like that, man. >> to deter men who buy women, chicago pd now seize their cars and fine them up to $2,000. >> it's serious. the girls should not be the only ones that are suffering here. the guys should suffer as well. >> virtually every one of them try to claim they were innocent, and virtually every one of them acknowledge that it was a dumb thing to do after they were arrested. >> yeah, at some point they're going to have to explain to a loved one or whatever that you know, we have to go get our car. >> this right here, this is for you. >> within a matter of a few hours, the trafficking unit has arrested eight johns and impounded six vehicles to the
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tune of $12,000. >> police. come on out. >> she was right back here. >> get over here right now. >> we got her. a female. with a pink jacket on. ♪ the middle of this special moment and i need to run off to the bathroom. ♪ i'm fed up with always having to put my bladder's needs ahead of my daughter. ♪ so today, i'm finally talking to my doctor about overactive bladder symptoms. [ female announcer ] know that gotta go feeling? ask your doctor about prescription toviaz. one toviaz pill a day significantly reduces sudden urges and accidents, for 24 hours. if you have certain stomach problems or glaucoma, or can not empty your bladder, you should not take toviaz. get emergency medical help right away if your face, lips, throat or tongue swells. toviaz can cause blurred vision, dizziness, drowsiness and decreased sweating. do not drive, operate machinery or do unsafe tasks
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i'm milissa rehberger. here's what's happening. a recovery effort is under way right now just northwest of charlotte, north carolina. two young children, a boy and a girl, ajsz 6 and 8, were trapped under several feet of dirt. officials say they weren't able to reach the kids after the wall of the basement that was under construction collapsed. president obama heads to connecticut tomorrow to push for tougher gun control measures. and gas prices are down six cents in the past two weeks to an average of $3.65 a gallon. now back to "msnbc undercover." cook county wants criminals to understand that busts like these are not just about
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rescuing the occasional woman or tagging the random john. >> our investigations are on the street, on the phone, in cyberspace. >> special prosecutor jack blakey's message -- if you're selling women in chicago, beware. >> wiretapping changes the game. it allows us to hear the traffickers and find out who's in charge and work our way up the chain of command. >> blakey helped write the illinois safe children's act, a law that gives local police the ability to track pimps and gang members using wiretaps normally reserved for federal drug cases. >> and that particular act is the reason that we're here today. >> the new law resulted in the prosecution of the largest human trafficking case in illinois history. >> what we have seen in recent cases, in one particular case, all the young girls were branded. >> they are literally slaves. >> prosecutor lou longatano says with the help of wiretaps ten defendants now face up to 30 years in prison.
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>> we've got telephone conversations of the guys trying to sweet-talk the girls, giving them orders, telling them where to go, girls reporting back. we've even got audiotape of a call where one of the pimps was beating one of the girls during the phone call. >> chicago's efforts to fight the buyers and sellers of women is an all hands on deck approach. from the state's attorney to chicago pd and the cook county sheriff's office. >> 120 for the half hour? okay. is it cheaper if i go the whole hour? >> it's 7:00 p.m. at the cook county sheriff's department. and undercover investigator chip anderson just booked a date with a young woman whose ad offered her so-called soft touch at a healthy hourly rate. >> you're in call 140 for a half hour, 180 for a full hour. and then if she's coming out to you 200 for the half hour and 250 for the full hour. >> the team heads out to a suburb a few hours from o'hare airport.
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>> we're in a very nice suburbs, upper middle class and upper class. >> today the sex business is booming in unassuming areas like this one. >> you know, that's the thing. a lot of people don't even realize this is going on right under their noses. >> police say here traffickers can earn up to a quarter million dollars a year for each woman they control. >> you know, here's the hotels here. so i'll turn the light off for a minute. >> as the undercover gets near, he must wait for the seller of sex to confirm her exact location. >> these guys never know what's going to meet them at the door. you know, most of these pimps that we come across, they're predators, number one. and number two, a lot of them have very violent backgrounds. there's always that risk of getting robbed, getting hurt, getting attacked. >> okay. he's in the room. someone repeat it. 540. >> after the undercover signals a deal for sex has been made, arresting officers move in. >> oh, my god. >> oh, my god.
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>> the woman advertised as jessica tells officers she's a single mom working to support her kids. >> do you have children here? >> no. >> where are your children at? >> my child is in new york. >> in new york? >> police find a new york city escort contract, revealing that jessica is working for an agency hundreds of miles from home. >> it appears she's been back and forth to here since august. there's another girl who apparently rented the room. she was nowhere to be found. >> do you know who rented the room? >> who rented the room? >> after a quick background check it becomes clear to officers that renting a room is the least of jessica's problems. >> if you don't want to answer questions, just tell me. >> a records check showed that she had an outstanding warrant for home invasion out of new york. >> all right. let's go. >> officers find no money in the hotel room and suspect jessica isn't working or traveling alone. >> we're not taking anything
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from your room. >> with jessica in cuffs they head to the station for processing. when suddenly the hotel manager alerts police that jessica's roommate has just bolted from the hotel. >> a blond just went running. she had a pink jacket on. she just went blasting out of this parking lot. >> i'm on the phone with the lady from the motel. she's saying that there was a blond girl that was hiegd under the stairwell or something and that she left the building and she was wearing pink. >> all right. then this is her, guys. check these parking lots. >> officers give chase to the woman they believe is either jessica's pimp or a fellow prostitute. >> she is out. the car that's coming toward you, she's behind you. she's behind you down toward those trees. >> police, come on out. >> she was right back here. she's probably laying down. >> try over here. she was ducking down right here. long blond hair, pink jacket. >> after a few minutes searching in the dark and the rain -- >> we got her. a female with a pink jacket on.
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>> -- the team finally apprehends their suspect. a young woman who appears to be in her 20s. >> why did you come running across the parking lot? >> the lady told me that she pretty much got arrested, would not tell me why. so i didn't know what to do. i left. >> you didn't just leave. you went running. how many girls are staying in that room? >> only me and her. >> who rented the room? >> we think she rented the room. so we're going to go back to the room, see if she was the one that rented it. and if she is we're going to try to charge her with promoting prostitution. >> due to new harsher laws aimed at pimps a promoting prostitution charge in illinois is now punishable up to 15 years in prison. >> okay. turn around. face the wall. >> back at the cook county lockup, officers confirm that jessica is wanted for home invasion back in new york. she'll be held here for extradition. meanwhile, officers are still trying to i.d. the woman caught in the bushes. >> we don't know who this girl is for sure. she doesn't have i.d. on her.
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she's claiming there's a third girl. we think there probably is a third girl. but until the fingerprints come back we won't know for sure. >> fingerprint analysis i.d.s her as 23-year-old katrina zeul, also of new york. >> put the hands on the wall above your head. >> a quick search reveals katrina has a four-year trail of prostitution arrests from four states. >> have you ever been arrested in the state of illinois, katrina? >> no. >> judging by her young age, detectives suspect the person responsible for shopping katrina online still lurks on the outskirts of the city. like most trafficked women, katrina is unwilling to admit to or give up her pimp and prepares for another night in lockup. >> how much dope do you do a day? >> she's snorting heroin. she's going to get dope-sick real quick. campbell's soups give you nutrition, energy,
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it's 5:00 a.m. in chicago, too early for the sun but not too early for the cook county human trafficking task force. >> all right. first of all, thanks, everybody, for coming. we're going to be doing a prostitution sting. we're going to be picking up the girls. >> special operations commander mike anton takes the lead on today's investigation. >> we're going to an area, it's on the west side. we're going to be looking for specific prostitutes. and there are some juveniles that frequent the area. the juveniles we don't arrest. and any victims of trafficking, we'll turn them over to the salvation army for the services that they can provide for them. >> you want to try and get her? >> it's about 6:00 a.m. when undercover vehicles roll out on the track and spot the players. >> eyeball on that white girl.
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she's walking north on cicero. she's also walking with a male. >> it doesn't take long, however, for these seasoned players to spot the police. >> we've got some guys out here. >> detectives suspect this man in the red cap is a lookout, hired to tip off working girls when the heat is on. >> this is like a cat and mouse game. she's walking away. >> with their cover blown on this corner, the team breaks into smaller groups, moving east and south. >> there goes one of our undercovers right there. >> the girl right now is crossing 16th on the way to his car. >> all right. she's getting in his car. >> a girl hopped in the car. we're following them now. >> hey, sweetheart. >> i knew that was you. >> you didn't know it was the police? >> when he grabbed my titties i knew that. >> i would never touch your titties. >> honey, settle down. >> she's in custody.
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>> 42-year-old ella is sadly typical of the women working chicago's west side strolls. every day this mother of three sells sex to feed an 18-year addiction to heroin. >> unfortunately, a lot of women, the reason they do it is because they have a habit. around this area heroin is a big thing. so if they make enough money to get their hit, they'll do their hit and they'll crash for a little while. until their high is over. and then they'll come back out again and make more money. i guess you would call it a vicious cycle. >> just so you know, we're with the cook county police. you're under arrest. >> sergeant gary has more than 20 years on the job. the last 10 in vice. >> there will be some people to talk to you if you want to talk to someone from salvation army who can offer you some services. >> okay. >> in this part of town he sees a parade of wary women at the bitter end of life in the sex trade. >> where did you go? >> sergeant gary's vice squad runs regular prostitution stings
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all across cook county. >> all right. i'm behind him. >> they are the front-line soldiers in this jurisdiction's fight against trafficking. >> how are you doing, ma'am? >> hi. >> you're under arrest, okay? >> okay. >> we're the police. >> how much dope do you do a day? >> quite a bit. >> heroin or crack? >> both. >> yeah? whatever you can get? >> yeah. >> do you snort? shoot up? >> snort. >> okay. >> she's got three kids. she's snorting heroin. she's got the tattoo on her neck. we're trying to find out what that is. a lot of pimps will brand their girls, put their tattoos on their -- >> what's pie? >> cutie pie. >> she's going to get dope-sick real quick. >> it's not much of a life. unfortunately, for some of them it's the only life they know. >> when is the last time you got high? >> mm. probably like last night. >> last night? okay. >> you're going to be fine. okay? just chill out. no crying. would you like a piece of gum? >> 46-year-old carlisa is perhaps the day's saddest case.
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>> she hasn't been searched yet. come on out, hon. >> after 30 years in the game and more than 100 arrests, this grandmother of two has outlived her usefulness to a pimp and now sells herself for $20 to support her heroin habit. >> when is the last time you got high? >> last night. >> last night? okay. >> we're going to try and get you some help today if you want it. okay? the object isn't to take you to jail. all right? what would you like? >> somebody to talk to. >> yeah. someone to help you out, right? yeah. good. >> back at the station the women are processed. over their collective lifetimes the seven souls assembled here have racked up more than 250 arrests for various prostitution and drug charges. >> most of the girls that we got today were older. 40, 45, 46 years old. there was one that was 35 years old. these girls have been on heroin for 10, 15 years. it's kind of like a neverending
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cycle. trying to kick that heroin habit. it's too great for them. and they need to be on the street to get the money. one had a seven-pack a day habit. she's got to work for a substantial time to get the money for her habit. and that's every day. >> why don't you come with us. >> every day sheriff's police connect women in crisis like carlisa with dedicated social workers like erin 'noleknowles. >> i'm from the salvation army and a lot of times the police ask us to come, meet people who they picked up to offer services. >> it's my hope that nobody would ever feel like they have to trade sex to survive. but we also recognize that many people do feel that they have to trade sex to survive. whether that be to meet basic needs or because someone has told them they have or else. >> see, i've been getting high for a while.
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and i ache trying to kick. >> it's tough to kick a drug addiction by yourself. >> i have two granddaughters, and i want to get myself clean so that i can, you know, be their grandma. >> we'd love to connect you with some services and drug rehab and whatever else you think you can benefit from so you can be part of your grandkids' life. >> yeah. >> there's definitely not a quick fix. but we're committed to working with people as long as they'll allow us to be in their lives. >> i got you, erin. you too. god bless you. >> you too. >> after a little food and water and someone to listen, carlisa leaves with her first smile of the day. >> this is her smoke pipe. so she will not get that back. and here's another crack pipe. >> but the reality today is that she and the other women are caught in the throes of a much deeper and deadlier hunger for heroin and crack.
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and that hunger will only be fed out on the streets of chicago. >> we're trying to hook them up with human services right now. hopefully, some of them will go with them. i doubt they all will. the reason being i don't think a lot of them are eady right now. they know they're going to be out in a couple of hours. they'll be out on the street. they can get their heroin. and they kind of go back to business as usual. >> i've been raped. i've been beaten. i've been robbed and stabbed. >> right today, right now, right this minute as we're speaking somebody's baby is being sold like a piece of meat. and they don't even know it. weigh you down?
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i've been raped. i've been beaten. i've been robbed and stabbed. i was stabbed in my neck by a
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john. >> while cook county's task force arrests and prosecutes pimps, advocates like chicago's coalition for the homeless work to empower women recently freed from sex slavery. >> thank you. [ applause ] >> this summer at a vigil they celebrated the success of victims who have survived. >> i've got to laugh because if i don't laugh about it i'll go crazy. >> at first glance tammy's gentle demeanor doesn't seem to distinguish her from any other middle-aged mother of three. but look closely and you'll find scars, physical and emotional. collected from seven years of being raped, sold, and exploited. >> i look at the scars i have, and it's hard to believe that that actually did happen, i really did go through those things. >> tammy's downward spiral began here in a quiet michigan community. after marrying her high school sweetheart she worked part-time as a welder, raising three boys.
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but in 2002 her life took an unexpected turn. >> i was introduced to crack cocaine, and that led me down hard. >> addiction to meth soon followed. tammy divorced and lost custody of her sons, ages 3, 4, and 14 at the time. >> i never was into prostitution until after i lost all that and took to the streets. i didn't have no other means of living. >> within months tammy met a pimp and began a seven-year journey trafficked from michigan to santa monica. >> so many women and youth get involved in the sex trade because of survival needs. >> daria mueller knows there's a very fine line between homelessness and prostitution. she wants the public to understand that criminals depend on the steady stream of women and teens like tammy to fill their online ads. >> people are looking for someone that looks vulnerable,
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that looks like they're in need. and so those offers are being made on the street. and you're like, well, what am i going to do tonight? you know, am i going to sleep in this park? and it's, you know, 20 degrees outside. or am i going to go with this guy? >> we're not criminals. >> to fight the growing threat of sex trafficking, chicago's coalition for the homeless founded a survivors group to help change laws in illinois. >> the traffickers that made us victims, they need to be held accountable. >> survivors like leanna majors lobbied lawmakers in springfield. >> right today, right now, right this minute as we're speaking, somebody's baby is being sold like a piece of meat. and they don't even know it. >> few know better than majors, a woman with over 300 arrests, how difficult it is to get out of prostitution once you have been sucked in. >> nobody told me the consequences would last 33 years. that's not a plan that i had.
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i didn't grow up saying i want to be a prostitute for 33 years. >> like most sold for sex, leanna's fall into prostitution began with being raped as a child. >> i had two children by the time i was 14 years old. i had been raped so many times i was like easy prey, you know, because it was like no one worried about raping me and getting a charge of raping a child because i had babies. >> like leanna, tammy eventually wound up homeless on the streets of chicago, where she was caught in a trafficking sting. it was her 37th prostitution arrest. but to tammy's surprise cook county offered an alternative to jail time. >> the judge offered me three years in prison or treatment and task probation. >> this group is one of the most stigmatized and traumatized of populations. >> you've got a lot of places you can go. >> judge rosemary grant-higgins
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runs a special court that allows higgins to oversee all prostitution cases in the county. >> they believe that if they don't take this lifeline they will not survive. and they're probably right. >> the illinois supreme court granted msnbc a rare opportunity to bear witness to this problem-solving court, which is the first of its kind in the country. >> normally, i'd ask to be sentenced. but this time i chose treatment. >> instead of doing time, women like tammy can opt to join a two-year rehabilitation program. >> what do you think brought you back into the street? the drugs or the boyfriend or -- >> the women receive drug and alcohol treatment, domestic abuse and trauma counseling from non-profit service providers. >> i think that what they haven't had in their lives is someone who cared about their success, someone who believed in their success, someone who gave them the tools to succeed as we would give our children. >> should get rid of this one. >> six months after appearing before judge higgins, tammy is living in a recovery home and is
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getting job training through the coalition. all of this at no cost to the taxpayer. >> i've gotten so much help, and i'm much happier being clean and not out there walking aimlessly. >> you look very, very good today. very professional. >> while police focus on arresting criminals who enslave women, every friday judge higgins can be found in court, offering women a genuine shot at getting out. >> how long have you been clean and sober now? >> seven months. >> well, congratulations to that. >> there's no magic pill here. the magic is in them. and yes, do they have it? i see it every single day, or i wouldn't be sitting here doing it. it's an extra responsibility. one i'm now grateful for. one that i think in retrospect will be the most important part of my work. >> she's going to her job right now.


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