tv Sex Slaves - Chicago MSNBC July 14, 2013 7:00pm-8:01pm PDT
on the streets of chicago and all across america, the business of sex for sale is booming, fuelled by the internet. >> this is not a problem that just happens in another country. >> we have girls come from texas. we have girls come from minnesota. girls come from iowa. >> what am i going to be arrested for? >> prostitution. >> in a world where girls and young women take all the risk, pimps and traffickers keep all the cash. >> it's not physical bondage. it's mental bondage. this is what traffickers and pimps and predators do. >> tonight msnbc goes undercover with the cook county human trafficking task force.
>> get them out of here, quick. >> as they reach tout rescue the young and the lost trapped in chicago's underground sex trade. rising from the shores of lake michigan, the skyline of chicago sparkles and soars, but beyond the glittering facade of glass and steel lies a city at the crossroads of america's underground sex trade. >> relax, okay, sweetie? don't be nervous or anything. >> tonight police find this young woman selling sex in a hotel room more than 600 miles away from her home in arkansas. local authorities say it's an all too common occurrence in the windy city. >> it does happen here in our
own backyard. in cook county, chicago is a transportation hub, it's a convention hub, and it's ripe for this type of crime. >> how did it go in court? >> the state's attorney anita alhave a easy heads up the task force, a joint effort by local police and prosecutors to combat the booming underground sex trade in chicago and the surrounding suburbs. >> do your parents know where you are? >> i think that we're really not going to get anywhere or make a dent into this crime unless we as local prosecutors do more. >> in 2011, the illinois safe child act became law in the land of lincoln giving local police and prosecutors a new set of investigative tools to identify and rescue trafficking victims, provide them with social services and punish the pimps who exploit them. >> i'd like people to think about that this could be their daughter. >> cook county sheriff tom dart
commands the task force in the field. he says that part of his job includes changing the public's misperception about the girls and young women who work the streets of chicago. >> every single one of these girls at one point was someone's little child, at one point was held in someone's arms and thought this child's going to be something. at one point that child actually thought when they were in kindergarten or first grade, that they might be something. these are real humans that are no different than our children. the reason that they're doing what they're doing now has a long history and it's an ugly history. but people need to understand that. >> you okay now? >> the task force in cook "ois e of the more aggressive local efforts aimed at trafficked women and arresting the traffickers and johns who exploit them. >> what's going on wo the hotels? >> special operations commander mike anton takes the lead on today's investigation. >> what we're doing, we're doing reversals, we call them, prostitution stings. our goal is to try to find the girls that are being trafficked and pimped out on the internet.
we'll answer ads and the girls will come to us. he's got one date set up. we're also going to be doing an operation where we answer the ads and go to them. two teams going out. but we'll post some ads of our own and we'll try and have some men answer the ads to come to the hotel. once we arrest the girls, though -- >> today's operation is comprehensive attacking both the supply and demand sides of the sex for sale equation. and focusing primarily on the digital street corner that is backpage.com. >> first of all, there's hundreds of sites out there. backpage is taking a hit because they're the largest. they're making millions off of that. they know what's going on, they've acknowledged what's going on, and they're not going to make an effort to stop it because they're making so much money. >> the cook county task force also includes crisis counselors like brenda powell, a former prostitute, who now works the other side of the street, reaching out and offering guidance to girls and young women trapped in the life.
>> in the 25 years i've been in prostitution, shot five times, stabbed over 13 times, beat, kidnapped, held against my will, all those things happen when you're in prostitution. every time you go out there and somebody pulls a gun to your head or something like that, your chances get lessened. you know what i mean? i understand where they come from. i understand who these women are. so who better to send in and talk to them than someone who has been through it. that's what i do. >> it's a little after 1:00 p.m. when the task force sets up in a hotel near o'hare airport. this strip of hotels and motels is a well known hot spot for the business of sex for sale in cook county. male undercovers in one room begin making contact with women advertising sex for sale on backpage.com. >> this is terry. i'm looking at your ad on
backpage. would you be will to come to me i'm in a hotel. >> across the hall female undercovers post fake ads for sex on backpage and lure johns to the hotel. >> are you going to come visit me? what time are you looking at? i charge $90 frank for full service for one hour. is that okay with you? >> he's calling for a date for tonight. wants to know if i do greek, which is a common term for anal sex. i'm in the o'hare area. okay, can't wait to see you. >> female undercovers make contact with an eager john. >> he'll be here in two minutes. >> meanwhile a male undercover in the room across the hall also has a subject on the way. >> you're not the police, right? you're not going to tell me that, right? that's why i don't want to give you my number. i don't want a bunch of dudes kicking in my door. >> the team scrambles to prepare for two simultaneous takedowns. >> you guys good? >> yeah, we're good.
>> i need you to hang out in the lobby then? it's always feast or famine. we'll have nothing, make the phone calls and put the ads on and in the space of a half hour we'll have five people show up. it's critical when we take this guy down, we get him out of here immediately. >> officers hud until the next room eyeballing the john's approach in the hallway and waiting for a hit on the panic pager to signal that the keel f -- deal for sex has been made. >> police. get your hands out of your pocket. >> the stunned john is quickly kufd and hustled into a processing room. >> get him out of here, quick. >> while officers reset the trap for a call girl who is only moments away. >> hey, how you doing, honey? >> police. >> police. >> have a seat on the bed.
>> all right. we're the police. okay. just so you know. you're under arrest. >> okay. >> the team now has two in the bag, and their operation has only just begun. i don't think we should get in trouble for this at all. >> it's what they want to do. i don't have nothing to say. [ slap! ] [ male announcer ] your favorite foods fighting you? fight back fast with tums. calcium-rich tums starts working so fast you'll forget you had heartburn. ♪ tum tum tum tum tums
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police. get your hands out of your pocket. you're under arrest. >> investigators with the cook county human trafficking task force are conducting undercover prostitution stings in a hotel near o'hare airport. >> get him out of here, quick. hurry up. >> the team quickly makes two arrests that illustrate both sides of the sex for sale equation. >> take a seat in this chair for me. >> a 55-year-old john is snared
in the first trap and a 27-year-old call girl is arrested just moments later. >> police. >> have a seat on the bed. >> detectives want to know more about the young woman's situation to see if she's in physical danger or in need of social services. but first they must dispense with the john. a married man on his way home from work, the john seems to be on the verge of tears. he tells police that today is his first time buying sex. >> i got off early today and wanted, tried to experiment a little. >> police say a man like this has only one concern, keeping his wife in the dark about his so-called experiment. >> is she going to have to find out? >> we'll talk about that later. >> they have a lot to lose, most are married, they have children. have been they're going to say
it's their first time. it's no way it's their first time. most people don't get caught the first time. they're all apologetic and they're sorry, but they're sorry they got caught. >> in cook county the law gives johns like this a choice -- fight the case in court or pay a steep fine and have the arrest wiped from their record. >> i've got freedom in this bag. we'll talk about it. >> it costs them $500. we tow their car, another $500. with the tow $1170. the money we get from the fine goes right to the women's program and these guys right away almost all of them pay within 24 hours cash. >> in keeping with the county's request for discretion, we have agreed to obscure the identities of the johns arrested today. >> it is what it is. i don't judge. >> i've had some discussions with some of the men that we've brought into custody. it's abundantly clear to me that
they are going to continue to do this, and i have no way of knowing what they're doing with the rest of their lives, they're certainly not coming around our area any more. we do it so often that a lot of people are thinking twice about what they're doing. it's not worth the down side of having their entire life thrown out there. >> in the two years since cook county police started slapping fines on johns, they've generated more than $100,000 for the women's justice program. and they have yet to encounter a repeat offender. detectives now turn their attention to the woman in custody. we'll call her jenny. >> what kind of at thes you got? >> i got a snake right here. >> she tells police she's been in chicago for about a month. >> how did you get here? >> a friend dropped me off. >> police suspect jenny may be trafficked, but she's reluctant to open up about her situation. >> how many dates did you have today? >> this was my first one. >> how many you got planned to do? >> none. >> i'm not trying to trick you
into saying anything. it's got nothing to do with why we got you here. we're trying to ascertain if you need any help. we can put you in touch with people that can help you out. simple, right? >> slowly but surely commander anton begins to break the ice. >> do you got any kids? >> one. >> learning that the woman has left a 3-year-old son behind in minnesota, and that she travels a lot. >> just -- well, i've been everywhere, vegas, chicago, detroit, texas. >> details that deepen his suspicion that she is being trafficked. >> i'm 27. i like to live life. >> in order to live a life, you've got to have a job. people have a misconception, if you're not coming from out of the country, china, thailand, then you're not a victim of trafficking. if you use threat or coercion, you're being trafficked. when was the last time you saw your son? >> when i -- since before i came here.
>> how long ago was that? >> a month ago. >> the manipulation is so great the pimps won't be in the state. girls come from texas, minnesota, iowa. they won't even be in the state. how are you supposed to get back? which would lead you to believe, how can you be that manipulated? but again, the girls, you might have something hanging over their head. a lot of the pimps will get the girls pregnant. they have the baby, now the baby is with the pimps people or his parents, so now you can't get out because you're worried about the baby. they'll use that as coercion. you're going to have to talk to someone right now. it won't be law enforcement. it is someone that helps people that are in situations like yourself. all right? >> with over 20,000 women being sold for sex across chicagoland, sheriff tom dart realized arrests and jail time did nothing to stem the revolving door of women flooding the system. >> a police officer would arrest someone for prostitution, and they would be back on the street before the police officer filled out the paperwork. literally by the time you were done, they had bonded out and
they didn't just go home for the night, they'd go back out to the street again. >> my name is brenda. and your name is? >> in 2008, sheriff dart started hiring counselors like brenda powell to work with social services and get them out of this life. >> for women to see that they are victims. they don't look at themselves as victims. so you never had a pimp? >> no. >> brenda is not just a counselor. she's a former prostitute with 25 years in the game. and even though jenny admits nothing, brenda can tell she's being pimped out. >> a girlfriend, her husband and her kids, so you're staying with your girlfriend, her husband and her kids. >> yeah. >> and the girlfriend and the girlfriend's kids and the girlfriend's man, that's not a normal relationship. that's how i used to live with my pimp and my wife-in-laws. we all lived with him and we would do anything for him. you can benefit from keeping it
"me. >> in the jargon of the underground sex trade wife-in-laws are the women working in the stable. the pimp is the daddy and the whole group including the children is called the family. >> i know how the game go. i was in the game for 25 years. i know how to get out of this game. a huge rule is not to snitch. any systems that come at her trying to damage that family system is an enemy. i can offer you all kinds of services to help you get a job. >> for now brenda can see that jenny is not ready to accept the help that the women's justice program can offer, but brenda has opened a lifeline tonight. and she'll be there for jenny if and when jenny is ready to change her life. >> give me a hug. >> thank you. >> mm-hmm. >> but one thing that i do leave them with, i don't care what happens tonight, later on, give me a call. she's ready to go back. i can stand here with her.
just let me know you're okay. and i do get calls from all over the country. and they'll say, hey, you remember me? you talked to me at that place? i know it's late, but you got a minute? and i have to take a minute to listen to her because that's something that no one is listening, but i do. i will listen. do your parents know where you are? >> no, they don't know where i'm at. they know what i do, though. i've been on my own since i was 17.
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it's just after 2:00 p.m. in chicago. and as the mercury outside rises to 98, action inside heats up for cook county investigators. >> lexus, how you doing? >> the unit now prepares to move in on a young woman advertising herself as an out of town special. >> wondering if you were available for a date this morning? >> uc veteran dan plays the decoy and secures a date. >> okay. no problem. i'm going to head that way.
i'm probably like 15, 20 minutes from there. okay? >> the out of town target? a self-proclaimed sicilian latina hottie, alexis sweets, whose backpage ad promises men pleasure and delight for the night for $160 an hour. working as backup, officer bob follows decoy dan to an undisclosed location. >> then north to algonquin. >> all right, i'm just going to follow you. >> detective bob explains this in-call operation is a more complicated game of cat and mouse. the seller of sex is completely in charge. >> they tell you the general vicinity where they want you to go. you get to that spot or that intersection, then you have to recontact them, then they'll give you the hotel they're at or motel. >> call girls like alexis don't give up their precise location for two reasons. one, it ensures the john is close and ready to make the
deal, and two, it gives pimps or women time to check them out. >> room 327 and she's watching out the window. she saw me pull in. 327. >> within minutes of arriving at the hotel, dan signals that a deal for sex has been made. alexis has offered oral sex and intercourse in exchange for $250. >> we're coming in. >> officers quickly i.d. alexis sweets as 21-year-old chanel velazquez of california. >> you were on backpage, right? you posted yourself? >> yes, sir. >> with a click of the mouse internet website backpage makes it possible for this sacramento college student to sell herself 2,000 miles from home. >> you're under arrest for prostitution. we'll take you in. >> calm and cooperative chanel claims she operates alone. >> you using the lobby computer to post? how are you posting?
>> either posting on that computer or i have my best friend post from her iphone or i post from my iphone. >> a quick search of the internet reveals that, thanks to backpage, alexis sweets has logged a lot of miles. chanel tells police she commutes from california to chicago because there is a higher demand for latina women in the windy city. >> how did you get this money? >> some i already had, and some of it i made here. >> we're going to count it, all right? 200, three, you have $408. will you count that? >> sheriff dart says backpage knows all too well their site is used by pimps and traffickers, not just people looking for massages. >> we have arrested, i don't know, like upwards of 500 people. they've all been in response to ads about massages and the like. and guess what? every single one of them have been prostitutes. now, come on. i couldn't conceivably be that
lucky that i get all the prostitutes and keep missing the masseuses. just not conceivable. >> before they transport her to lockup, they tell her to prepare for what will be a long day in jail. >> your room key is in here? >> it's clear this california girl knows the drill. this is her third arrest in two years. >> we're all set. come on. >> while being cuffed, chanel wonders aloud if other women selling sex in the hotel will also be arrested. >> do you know who they are? >> i don't know who they are, i don't know them. but i just dated a guy who said there was a girl upstairs. they're like older women, i guess. >> we'll check it out. do your parents know where you are? >> no, they don't know where i'm at. they know what i do, though. i'm a 21. i'm grown. i've been on my own since 17. >> during the walk of shame across the parking lot, she plays the cool customer, but on the ride to lockup, she begins to tell police an all too
familiar story. struggling to make ends meet on min yum wage, she was lured into prostitution by a smooth talking romeo pimp. >> well, he lied, though. he sold me a dream and told me that he would make sure that i have everything that i need. >> that's how they get you. >> yeah, i know. >> they always promise you everything but in reality you get nothing. >> you get nothing. i ended up making 20, maybe almost $30,000 for him. >> chanel says after being beaten badly by her pimp in los angeles, she ran and has been on her own for over a year. >> a lot of times the girls start working and then a pimp approaches them on the street. well, in her case she's claiming that she never worked before. >> dan finds chanel's story especially tragic. >> if a girl chose to work and she's out there working and she eventually gets picked up bay pimp, that's terrible. but the girls that have never worked before and they start working because they get recruited, those are the worst ones to hear. >> while dan heads out to play decoy, chanel will lose her call
girl cool and get a much needed reality check. have a seat for a minute. >> come here. come here. it's okay. how many months pregnant are you? >> i'm due like next week. >> she's due next week. ♪ i made you something, too. ♪ see you next summer. ♪ [ male announcer ] get exceptional values on the highest quality cars at the summer of audi sales event. ♪ at the summer of audi sales event. "stubborn love" by the lumineers did you i did. email? so what did you think of the house? did you see the school ratings? oh, you're right. hey babe, i got to go. bye daddy! have a good day at school, ok? ...but what about when my parents visit? ok. i just love this one... and it's next to a park.
i'm milissa rehberger. a justice department will determine whether criminal civil rights charges will be brought against george zimmerman. this after a florida jury found him not guilty in the second degree murder of trayvon martin. an update on a 6-year-old boy rescued from a sinkhole. he was trap under 11 feet of sand for more than four hours. he's currently in critical condition. back to msnbc undercover.
hey, is megan there? >> every day in america tens of thousands of people go online looking to buy and sell sex. >> yes. are you calling for a date? >> but sometimes the voice on the other end of the line is an undercover cop. >> i think it's river and delor delores. >> investigators with the cook county human trafficking task force are en route to a location where an undercover officer has arranged a date for sex with a woman doing in-calls from her hotel room. >> once the officer is inside with the girl, he'll make the deal, we'll go to the room, he'll let us in, and then we'll arrest the girl for prostitution. >> police say this particular motel about a mile from the airport is frequently used as a rendezvous for buyers and sellers of sex. >> okay. we just got text now that he's going to room 307. we'll give him a couple minutes to get up there. >> inside room 307, the
undercover has just made a deal for sex in exchange for $200. >> you have no identification, right? >> no. >> sure? >> i swear. >> the young woman has no identification, but she tells detectives that she's been arrested for prostitution before. and she tells our producer that she doesn't understand what all the fuss is about. >> i don't think we should get in trouble for this at all. like if my boyfriend gives me money and buys me stuff, i don't see a reason like a stranger can't do that. it would be the same thing to me. that's it. >> even when you arrest the girls, a lot of times they're so well trained especially the young ones to talk about, no, it's my boyfriend, talk about the pimp, or there's no force involved. when you start peeling back the layer, you find abuse. you find this person is a victim of trafficking. >> detectives are finishing up at the hotel when they notice a curious couple hanging around room 307 and watching them work. police suspect the pair may be
connected to the girl in custody. so they decide to introduce themselves. >> have a seat for a minute. come here. >> it's okay, baby. >> the woman has no identification, but she tells police she's 21 and lives in the neighboring state of wisconsin. police learn she is nine months pregnant and has a prior arrest for prostitution. >> how many months pregnant are you? >> i'm due like next week. >> she's due next week. >> the couple denies any wrongdoing today. and police are unable to connect them to the earlier arrest in room 307. once the male is identified, he's free to go, but police can't release the young woman until she's identified. >> is that your boyfriend? >> yeah. >> who rented the room? >> i'm not in a room. >> she was uncooperative but was arrested for prostitution a month ago. the manager said she's been in the motel for 23 days. >> what room is she staying in? >> need to go and get rent
money. >> 208. >> i don't have any. >> who is up in 208? >> that's not my room. >> there's no proof that jenna is selling sex today. but police say there is actually a high dollar demand for sex with pregnant women. >> she'll get guys. that's what they're kind of into. i don't see it, but ah -- >> i'm not lying. >> the young woman is eventually identified by the record of her previous arrest for prostitution. >> i'll meet you back over there. and you're pregnant, so don't be doing anything you're not supposed to do. >> police offer her the chance to speak with a crisis counselor from the women's justice program, but she declines and she is free to go. >> okay. so what time are you looking at? >> back at the hotel, it's a little after 4:00 p.m. when business begins to pick up. >> guys are getting off work now. and they're looking for maybe something to do before they go
home. you know, you can check us out and then we can go from there. follow your lead. >> female undercovers have an unsuspecting john on the line. >> niece the pahe's in the park >> now all they have to do is reel him in. >> turn around. put your hands behind your back. >> inside the room, police find a big bear of a man with alcohol on his breath. detectives say he was hoping to party with all three women, but now the party is over. >> if you haven't noticed, we're running a prostitution sting right now. >> a resident of indiana, the man tells police he's in town on business. detectives say they see his kind all the time. >> businessmen, doctors, lawyers, you know, career guys. >> we've looked at the demographics. it's across the board. we've got a guy coming up, guys. economics doesn't make a
difference, race doesn't make a difference. >> police. you're under arrest. turn around. >> age doesn't make a difference. from 18 all the way to i think it was 74 years old. we arrested one guy last year 74 years old. he's looking for sex from our undercover girl. the guy got out of surgery two weeks ago in bypass surgery and he's out looking for a girl. >> this officer here will take care of you. >> sex sells. men think about it all the time. the manner in which they're willing to go about obtaining it and the risk they'll take. >> they don't seem to care. most of them are married, most of them have families, most of them are businessmen. they all have jobs, and they come and they just want to have a good time with someone in private and something discreet and nobody's going to know about it. >> the salmon's going upstream. >> police say that most johns don't think too deeply about all the consequences of buying sex until they get caught. >> police. let me see your hands.
>> we're looking for one thing. obviously the guy is going to pay for sex, he's looking for that, he's looking for sex. they don't see the ramifications of paying someone and they don't see the outcome of a traffic victim. i don't think they want to look at that. if they realize what's going on in this girl's life, her background, the physical and emotional abuse she's getting now from the pimp, she'd have a different understanding of what it is. >> while police may not be able to make johns feel the pain of women trapped in the underground sex trade, they can make them feel a pain deep in their own wallets. >> this is a nice wallet. is this leather? this is a leather wallet? this is nice. >> it became clear that in certain areas of town, the people looking for prostitutes, they better not go there, because there's the strongest possibility it might be us. and if it is, we have this whole menu of things we can and will do to you starting with really making you poor. >> this is the fine. this is if you decide you don't
want to make a fine. >> collectively we've driven down the demand, definitely in certain areas. all the local people tell us that. then in addition we utilize the people we've been dragging in to fund all our programs to try to help the women who have been victimized. the average prostitute turns five to six maybe ten tricks a day, right? how much trauma is that for her? i've had some of the girls say it feels like someone's using the bathroom inside of me. so we could be a better, safer energy company. i've been with bp for 24 years. i was part of the team that helped deliver on our commitments to the gulf - and i can tell you, safety is at the heart of everything we do. we've added cutting-edge safety equipment and technology, like a new deepwater well cap and a state-of-the-art monitoring center, where experts watch over all our drilling activity, twenty-four-seven. and we're sharing what we've learned, so we can all produce energy more safely.
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you sat out most of our game yesterday! asthma doesn't affect my job... you were out sick last week. my asthma doesn't bother my family... you coughed all through our date night! i hardly use my rescue inhaler at all. what did you say? how about - every day? coping with asthma isn't controlling it. test your level of control at asthma.com, then talk to your doctor. there may be more you could do for your asthma. put your hands behind your back. >> clearly the party is over tonight for these men seeking sex for sale. but across metro chicago, day or night, men continue to order girls to go with the simple
click of a mouse. from anal sex to oral sex to three on one, investigators say women and underaged girls are sold on websites like backpage. >> their entire site is existing so that traffickers and pimps can have a place to sell women. >> i'm fed up and i'm tired and this is going to stop. >> in 2009 cook county sheriff tom dart was part of the legal effort to shut down the erotic services section of craigslist. >> just calling to see if you have anything available for today. >> now his troops are taking aim at backpage, which he says makes millions off the misery of others. >> if we had a website where people were putting out hits on their spois spouuses, the websi say we're not putting out the hits on the spouses, we put up the website. the fact that these people are doing that -- then we tell law
enforcement, by the time we get there, people are dead already. we'd rather you take the website down. i mean, come on. >> the cook county task force wants americans to know that online websites keep trafficked women ensnared in a cycle of perpetual violence. >> they went crazy. this dude put me in a choke hold. >> while most view them as tough individuals making bad choices, brenda powell sees these women as the walking wounded in desperate need of the public's empathy and intervention. >> i have girls say it feels like someone is using the bathroom inside of me. when did you start doing this regularly? the average prostitute turns five to six, maybe ten tricks a day, right? if you calculate five times 365, how many men has she slept with? over 1,800 men. how much trauma is that for her? i know about prostitution. i was a prostitute for 25 years. you have no idea what you're in for.
>> brenda's own hard life lessons learned on the streets of chicago make her the perfect lifeline for girls and young women in crisis. >> in the beginning of my prostitution, escorts and strip clubs, only the best. and at the end of the road, i was turning tricks on a street corner for $20. >> like many women who fall into prostitution, brenda's own sexual experience began with rape as a child. >> being molested since i was 4 or 5 years old, constantly happening in the households that i lived in, from my grandmother to my aunt's house. every time i thought i was safe, i was never safe. >> raised by an alcoholic grandmother in housing projects on chicago's west side, her first exposure to prostitution was right outside her front door. >> me being 9 years old, living in a community where prostitutes work in front of our window, and
looking out the window at the prostitutes and getting in and out of cars with shiny dresses on and being very beautiful and asking my grandmother, what are those women doing? and she told me those women take their panties off and men give them money. and me being related to this because men have been taking my pant es off. wow, i didn't know they were supposed to give me money. >> brenda says at 14 her grandmother encouraged her to sell herself in order to add money to the family purse. >> 1973, good friday, i proceeded to march on downtown to the gold coast and stood on the corner. and that night i made over $400. and those guys knew that i was a minor. they knew that i was young. they paid me more because i was young. >> after 25 years of surviving exploitation and violence, brenda was forced out of the life after a brutal attack by a john almost killed her.
i got in a car with a customer who began to beat me up to take his money back after we got through, and i tried to get out of the car to get away from him, and he started his car up and was driving off, and as i tried to get away from him, my clothes caught hold to the door. and he drug me for six blocks and tore all the skin off my body, my face. >> disfigured and near death, brenda was taken to cook county hospital. there she says she was pushed to the back of the line for treatment because she was a prostitute. >> i felt worthless. i felt that even people who were supposed to help me, who had took an oath to help people, didn't want to help a prostitute. i wanted to die. >> now married with a family of her own, brenda says she is living proof that working girls like chanel can turn their lives around with help and support. >> chanel, you are a beautiful, special girl.
>> thanks. >> i can look in her eyes. i can talk to her. i can understand what she's feeling because i've been there. and the questions that come from me are not like the questions that come from the police. >> it takes just a few minutes for brenda to crack chanel's tough girl act. >> i don't even remember what i was like before this. >> wow. >> i have no idea. i can't even think. i can't remember my personality or anything like that. >> wow. >> that's the worst part about it. is that i won't ever be the same. i'm a different person. you know what i mean? i know how bad it is. like, i know some girls probably say or i know some girls are on drugs and do it. abo i can honestly say after meeting so many girls or the hos that get down, i'm one of the smarter ones. i know this is ridiculous. i never was meant to be a ho. >> today brenda devotes her time to helping women make the same choice she did, to leave the
life. >> give me a hug. >> her goal, make a human connection and give women hope that there is a real way out. >> give me a real hug. that was a fake hug. >> so next time the women are thrown a lifeline, they just might take it. >> thank you for talking to me. >> if i take prostitution away from you, i have to offer you everything in place of that. and when i say everything, i'm talking about a place to stay, food, clothing, all of your basic human needs have to be met. they need to feel safe. >> relax, okay, sweetie. >> okay. >> don't be nervous or anything, okay. >> can i just ask you, are you being trafficked? or is the money going elsewhere? >> it's all mine. it's all my money. >> you sure? >> yes. you will never survive the running of the bulls...
as night falls in chicago, the day's stifling heat gives way to thunder and lightning and a cold hard rain flushing the streets. >> how you doing? >> okay. >> put your clothes on, sweetie. >> today's investigation by the cook county human trafficking task force continues to uncover women from all across america. >> what am i going to be under arrest for? >> prostitution. we had a girl from minnesota, we had a girl from wisconsin. only one girl here from chicago. that says a lot for the girls that are putting themselves out, they're not staying in one location. they're moving around. >> the team is about to pack it in when they get one last visit by a woman hoping to trade sex for cash. >> don't get nervous or anything? okay?
>> 23-year-old jessica sansuey is more than 600 miles away from her home in arkansas. >> is this all you had on? >> yes. >> this high school graduate tells police that this is her first run-in with the law. >> have you ever been arrested before? >> no. >> never for anything? >> no. >> really? >> really. >> how long have you been working? >> not that long. >> how long have you been in town? >> three weeks. >> where are you staying? >> i'm staying at a friend's house. >> among jessica's belongings, police find condoms and receipts for stays in high-end hotels and more than $500 in cash. they suspect she may be trafficked but she insists that she is acting alone. >> can i just ask you, are you being trafficked or is the money going elsewhere? >> it's all mine. >> are you sure? >> yes. it's my decision. >> when asked about the plight of other women in the life, jessica says it is simply a matter of freewill. >> it's what they want to do.
i don't have nothing to say. >> the majority of those women were being controlled. they would never tell you that, but i hear things that a lot of times in interviews that other people don't hear. >> come on in. have a seat. my name is brenda. >> while jessica is noncompliant, another young woman opens up to brenda, revealing she is in crisis. >> i don't want to be on tv. if anyone sees my face, i can get killed. >> okay. because i don't know what's going on, but i feel you, okay? >> the 22-year-old tells brenda she's been working for a pimp from new york who, despite his distance, controls her every move. >> the guy you're with now, how did you meet him, your pimp? >> through his, i don't know what you call, second in command, his wife. >> she was recruited by another woman in new york. her situation was bad already.
>> when she met me, i had like $20 to my name. i didn't even know how i was going to make rent. >> and she said she knew what she was doing was not right but she could not get out of it because she would not have a pot to piss in if she didn't have prostitution. she had family but her family had given up on her a long time ago. >> i've never been able to ask anybody for help, ever since i was 13 doing whatever. i was not able to keep up the charade with my parents pretending to be a christian, pretending to be straight. and by the time i went to college, everything fell apart. >> the daughter of missionaries, anna dropped out of college and hopped a plane to america hoping to find work with a modeling agency in new york. but what she found instead turned out to be a trafficking operation. >> and they flew you out to cali, got your hair done, put you on a website and they've been prostituting you out ever since? >> uh-huh.
>> do you get any of the money? >> only what i hide, when i can. >> the woman that brought her there was threatening her every day, calling her, telling her we're watching you. you can't move. we have people that will come and get you. >> she's absolutely clinically insane. i thought she was going to kill me. she sent me like 27 text messages saying that she's going to kill me. >> that's the brain -- that's the brain -- they have that they use to have you brainwashed so that you don't go, right? been there, done that. okay? >> after 25 years in the game, brenda knows all too well how hard it is for girls like anna to walk away from their pimps. >> a lot of people think this is something that, oh, they just settle for that. actually, these women are in survival mode. >> i'm just tired of being scared all the time. >> you don't have any peripheral vision. all you see is your tunnel vision tells the you that these people are right here and this
is what i see and this is who i am and i can't get away. do you want to be with this pimp? >> i hate him. >> it's not physical bondage. it's mental bondage. if someone can control your mind, they can control you. this is what traffickers and pimps and predators do. they control you mentally. >> i don't want anyone to find you, okay? you hear me? but i can get you somewhere very safe. you hear me? where you will be safe, where you'll be protected, where no one will bother you. listen, this is what i do for a living, okay? >> at least for tonight, anna's traffickers have met their match in brenda powell. >> i cannot sleep tonight if i let you go back there. you understand? >> her hard life lessons ring loud and clear in the other woman's ears. >> i just want to you be safe.
>> at last anna cease a genuine opportunity to get away from her pimp and agrees to take refuge in a shelter for girls and young woman struggling to escape prostitution. >> are you going to let me do that? that's all i want to hear. give me a hug. you're not going anywhere. sometimes i believe that things happen for a reason and it's divine intervention, and i feel that's just what happened right now. >> brenda says there's no guarantees that today's intervention will turn anna's life around but at least for tonight anna will be safe and warm securing shelter from the storm of the underground sex trade. >> we're trying to find that piece of them that's left, the best of what is the best of them so we can help them bring it out because they're not a lost cause.
from the mean streets of chicago's south side -- >> don't do me like that, man. >> to the affluent suburbs of schaumburg, illinois. the underground sex trade is booming in the midwest. >> gang members are not just out selling drugs any longer. they're selling children. >> all the young girls were branded. >> they are literally slaves. >> but what are the real human costs for the women that service this billion dollar industry? >> take us to jail and you won't have to wore be this [ bleep ] no more,