Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said Monday that a record number of people were arrested on human trafficking charges following a sting operation.
At a news conference, Dart said 10 people had been arrested and charged in two weeks. Among those arrested were four people accused of operating a brothel out of an unincorporated Palatine apartment, authorities said. Others were arrested on charges of human trafficking, promoting prostitution, possession of child pornography, distribution of child pornography and involuntary servitude.
Although the arrests are a record, Dart says the number would be much higher if the department had additional staff.
“The only reason those numbers are there is because of the number of people I have to put into it,” the sheriff said. “If I had more, I would make thousands more (arrests).”
According to Dart, several people apprehended during the operation were accused of promoting prostitution by posting on websites such as ListCrawler and MegaPersonals.
The sheriff said he would send letters to the operators of the websites, asking them to work with his office to prevent human trafficking.
“If you were to go to one of these sites right now, there’s no mystery to what’s happening there,” he said.
Dart previously worked to shut down Backpage.com due to prostitution and human trafficking. In 2018, federal authorities shut down the website after a Senate report found that 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 encounter,” he said. “We have a whole group that works just with victims. We are simply overwhelmed.