tv Sex Slaves - Chicago MSNBC October 20, 2013 6:00pm-7:01pm PDT
on the streets of chicago and all across america, the business of sex for sale is booming. fueled 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 coming from iowa. >> so what am i going to be under arrest 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 him out of here, quick. >> as they battle the buyers and sellers of sex and reach out to 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 cross roads of america's underground sex trade. >> relax, okay, sweetie? >> okay. >> don't get nervous or anything, okay? >> 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? >> illinois state's attorney anita alvarez heads up the cook county human trafficking 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 tht 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 was going to be something. at one point that child thought when they were in kindergarten, first grade, that they might be something. they're no different than our children. what they're doing is a long history and ugly history and people need to understand that. >> the task force in cook county is one of the more aggressive local law enforcement efforts aimed at both rescuing trafficked women and arresting the traffickers and jons who exploit them. >> what's going on with the hotels? are we good? >> special operations commander mike anton takes the lead on today's investigation. >> what we're doing, we're doing reverses, we call them. prostitution stings.
our g our goal is to find the girls who are being trafficked and m pimped out on the internet. they'll come to us. we do an operation where we answer the ads and go to them. we have two teams going out. we're going to post ads of our own, going to try to 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, i think, is taking a hit because they're the largest. they're making millions of dollars off of that. they know what's going on. they've acknowledged what's going on. they're not going to make an effort to stop it because they're making so much money. >> and then i go down to -- >> 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 was in prostitution, i've been shot five times, stabbed over 13 times, beat, kidnapped, keheld against my will. all those things happen when you're in prostitution. every time you go out there and somebody puts 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. who better to send in and talk to them than someone who's been through it? and 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 hotspot for the business of sex for sale in cook county. >> it's this one. >> male undercovers in one room begin making contact with women advertising sex for sale on backpage.com. >> hi, sherry. this is tim.
i'm looking at your ad on backpage. i'm hoping you're available some time today. would you be willing to come to me? i'm at a hotel in schiller park. >> meanwhile across the hall, female undercovers post fake ads for sex on backpage and lure jons to the hotel. >> are you going to come visit me? what time are you looking at? okay. i charge $90, frank, for full service for one hour. is that okay with you? >> he's not calling for a date for tonight. wants to know if i do greek, which is common term for anal sex. >> i'm in the o'hare area. >> okay. i can't wait to see you. >> female undercovers make contact with an eager jon. >> he's right now, he's going to 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 got to tell me that, right? that's why i want to give you my number. i mean, i don't want a bunch of dudes kicking in my door. >> the team scrambles to prepare for two simultaneous takedowns.
>> are you guys good? >> yeah, we're good. >> let me know, are you going to hang out in the lobby, then if. >> it's always feast or famine. we'll have nothing. we'll make the phone calls. we'll put the ads on. in the space of a half hour, we'll have five people show up. it's critical that when we take this guy down, we get him out of here, bring him immediately. >> arresting officers huddle in the next room. >> he's here. >> eyeballing the jon's approach in the hallway and waiting for a hit on the panic pager to signal that the deal for sex has been made. >> police. get your hands out of your pocket. you're under arrest. >> the stunned jon is quickly cuffed and hustled into a processing room. >> get him out of here. quick. hurry up. >> officers reset a trap for a call girl who is only moments away. >> hey, how you doing, honey?
police. >> oh. >> real quick. >> all right. we're the police. okay? just so you know. you're under arrest. >> okay. >> 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. help the gulf recover and learn from what happened so we could be a better, safer energy company. i can tell you - safety is at the heart of everything we do. we've added cutting-edge technology, like a new deepwater well cap and a state-of-the-art monitoring center, where experts watch over all drilling activity twenty-four-seven. and we're sharing what we've learned, so we can all produce energy more safely. our commitment has never been stronger.
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get your hands. police. get your hands out of your pocket. >> investigators are the task force are conducting undercover prostitution stings in a hotel near o'hare airport. >> get them out of here. >> 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 jon is snared in the first trap. and a 27-year-old call girl is arrested just moments later. >> police. >> police. >> oh. >> what's going on here? >> 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 jon. >> born in 1957. white. >> a married man on his way home from work. the jon seems s to be on the e of tears. he told police that today is his first time buying sex. >> i got off early today. >> once arrested, police say a man like this has only one concern. keeping his wife in the dark about his so-called experiment. >> she going to find out? >> huh. >> she going to find out? >> we'll talk about that later. >> well, they have a lot to lose. most of them are married.
most of them have children. they're doing this, obvious they're going to say it's the first time, but there's no way it's the first time. most people don't get caught the first time doing something wrong. they're all apologetic and are sorry, but they're sorry they got caught. >> in cook county, the law gives jons like this a choice. fight the case in court, or pay a steep fine and have the arrest wiped from their record. >> freedom at this point, we'll talk about it. >> we have the a ability to write tickets to these guys. cost them $500. we hold their card, it's another $500. it ends up being total $1,070. the money we get from the mine goes right to the women's justice program. >> if you want to pay, you come here. >> 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 jons arrested today. >> i'm sorry. i screwed up. >> 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, if they're going to continue to do this, and i have no way of knowing what they're going to do with the rest of their lives. they're certainly not coming around our area anymore. >> just go straight up. wake straight up. >> we do it so often that a lot of people are thinking twice about what they're doing. it's not worth the downside of having their entire life thrown out there. >> in the two years since cook county police started slapping fines on jons, 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 tats you got? >> got a snake right here. >> a resident of minnesota, jenny 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 is my first one. >> how many you got planned to
do? >> none. >> i'm not trying to trick you into saying anything. it's the got nothing to do with why we've got you here. we're trying to ascertain if you need any help. that's what we're trying to do. 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. >> got any kids? >> one. >> learning that the woman has left a 3-year-old son behind in minnesota. and that she travels a lot. >> 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. >> yeah, but in order to live a life, you have to have a job. people have a misconception, if you're not coming from out of the country, china, thailand or somewhere else, then you're not a victim of trafficking. if you use threat or coercion, you're being trafficked. when is the last time you saw your son? >> when i -- before i came here. >> how long ago was that? >> a month ago, i think.
>> manipulation is so great that a lot of these pimps won't even be in the state. we have girls come from texas, we have girls come from minnesota, girls come from iowa. and they won't even be the state, which could lead you to believe, how could you be that manipulated? again, the girls might have something hang over their head, like, for instance, a lot of the pimps will get the girl pregnant. they have the baby. now the baby is with the pimp's people or his parents. you can't get out because you're worried about the baby. they use that as coercion. >> going to have to talk to someone. not going to be law enforcement. it's someone who helps people who are in situations like yourself. >> 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'd 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 didn't go home for the night but would go to the street again. >> my name is brenda. your name is? >> in 2008, sheriff dart started hiring counselors like brenda powell to connect women with social services and help them get out of the life. >> the hardest thing for women who are involved in this is to si see they are victims. they don't look at themselves as victims, okay? >> 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. >> her girlfriend, her husband, her kids. you're going to be staying with your girlfriend, her husband and kids, right? >> 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 would do anything for him. you can benefit from kicking it
with me. >> in the jargon of the underground sex trade, wife-in-laws are the women working in a pimp stable. the pimp is the daddy and the whole group, including children, is called the family. >> but i know how the game go, because i was in the game for 25 years. i know that it ain't easy to get out of this game. a huge rule is not to snitch. a huge rule is not to talk about what goes on in that family. 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 will be there for jenny if and when jenny is ready to change her life. >> give me a hug. thank you. but one thing 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. i do get calls from all over the country and they'll say, 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's doing. no one's listening. but i do. i will listen. your parents know where you are? >> um, no, they don't know where i'm at. they know what i do, though. i've been on my own since i was, like, 17. >> okay. design. showing up where we least expect it. and taking inspiration from our wildest dreams. because kohler doesn't see the world in fixtures and faucets. it reimagines. coloring our lives in ways only bold could do, it's no wonder the world can't wait to see
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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. >> hi, alexis, how you doing? >> the unit now repairs to move in on a young woman advertising herself as an out of town special. >> i was hoping you're available for a date this morning. >> u.c. 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 cecilian latina hottie, whose ad promises men pleasure for the night for $160 an hour. >> i'm taking 90 west. >> working as backup, officer bob follows decoy dan to an undisclosed location. >> right up here. >> 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 a general vicinity where they want you to go. you get to that spot, that intersection, then you have to recontact them, then they'll give you the hotel that they're at, or motel. >> call girls like alexis don't give up their precise location for two reasons. one, it ensures the jon is close and ready to make the deal, and
two, it gives pimps or women time to check them out. >> it's 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 offered oral sex and intercourse in exchange for $250. >> we're coming in. >> officers quickly i.d. alexis sweets as 21-year-old chanel l velasquez as california. >> you're on backpage. >> with a click of a mouse, backpage makes it possible for this sacramento college student to sell herself 2,000 miles from home. >> you're under arrest for prostitution. we're going to take you in. >> calm and cooperative, she claims she operates alone. >> 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 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 latino women in the windy city. >> how did you get this money? >> some of that i already had and some of it i made here. >> okay. we're going to count it, all right? there's $200. $300. you had $408. can 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, keep missing the masseuses. it's not conceivable. >> before officers transport her to lockup, they tell her to prepare for what will be a long day in jail. >> your room key is in here, right? >> it's clear this california girl knows the drill. this is her third arrest in two years. >> all right. we're all set. come here. >> while being cuffed, she 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 dated a guy who said there's a girl upstairs. >> yeah. >> they're like older women, though, i guess. >> we'll check it out. >> to 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, like, 17. >> during her walk of shame across the hotel 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 minimum wage, she was lured into prostitution by a smooth talking romeo pimp. >> he lied, though. he sold me a dream and told me he'd make sure i have everything i need zbla. >> that's how they get you. they promise you everything and in reality you get nothing. >> i made $20,000, almost $30,000 for him. >> 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. in her case, she's claiming that she never worked before. >> dan finds her story especially tragic. >> if a girl chose to work and she's out there work and eventually gets picked up by a pimp, that's terrible. the girls that have never worked before and start working because they get recruited, those are the worst ones to hear. >> while dan heads out to play
decoy, she 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, baby. >> how many months pregnant are you? >> i'm due, like, next week. >> she's due next week. when you vote for flo, we'll have discounts. ice-cream discounts. multi-cookie discounts. pizza loyalty discounts! [ kids chanting "flo!" ] i also have some great ideas on car insurance. [ silence ] finding you discounts since back in the day. call or click today. i like her.
i'm milissa rehberger. here's what's happening. leaders in both parties hit the tund sunday talk thoughs insisting a see quequel to the government shutdown must never happened. they vowed there will not be another government shutdown. after midnight, same sex couples in new jersey will be able to get married after the new jersey supreme court last week refused to delay a lower court ruling legalizing the unions. now back to msnbc "undercover."
hi, is meagan 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 lawrence. >> 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 motel room. >> once the officer's inside the room with the girl, he'll make the deal. we'll go to the room. he'll let us in. 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 texted 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? >> the young woman has no identification, but she tells detectives that she's been arrested for prostitution before and tells our producer 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 done see a reason, like, a stranger can't do tat. so, it is 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. they're talking about the pimp or there's no force involved and this and that. when you start peeling back the layers, you find abuse. you find this person is a victim of trafficking. >> detectives are finishing up the at the motel 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, 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 next week. >> she's due next week. >> okay. >> 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 you were walking with? >> yeah. a friend of mine. i'm not in a room. >> the woman, jenna heck, is uncooperative but was arrested for prostitution a month ago. the manager says she's been in the motel for 23 days. >> what room is she staying in. >> don't take me to go and get
rent money. >> 208. >> where's your key? >> i don't have a key. >> who's up in 208? >> it'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 -- >> i'm not -- >> what else did you get arrested for? >> the young woman is eventually identified by the record of her previous arrest for prostitution. >> i'll meet you guys back over there. you're pregnant, so don't be doing anything you're not supposed to do. >> police offer her a 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. we'll follow your lead. >> female undercovers have an unsuspecting jon on the line. >> he's in the parking lot. >> now all they have to do is reel him in. >> go ahead. >> turn around. turn around. put your hands behind your back. 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. >> 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. >> all right. we got a guy coming up, guys.
>> economics doesn't make a difference. race doesn't make a difference. >> turn around. 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. i miean, the guy got out of surgery two weeks ago, bypass surgery and is looking for a girl. >> the officer is going to tell you what happens. >> sex sells. men think about it all the time. it's the manner in which they're willing to go about obtaining it and the risk they're willing to take. >> they don't seem to care. they just -- most of them are married. most of them have families. most of them are businessmen. they all have jobs. they come and just want to have a good time with someone in private and something discreet and nobody is going to know about it. >> going up straight. going up straight. >> police say most jons don't think too deeply about all the consequences of buying sex until they get caught.
>> police. see your hands. >> they're looking for one thing. obviously a guy who's 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. they don't -- i don't think they want to look at that. >> you want to walk with me? >> sure. >> if they realized what's going on in this girl's life, her background, the physical, emotional abuse she's getting now from the pimp, i think they'd have a different understanding of what it is. >> while police may not be able to make jons feel the pain of women trapped in the underground sex trade, they can make them feel the pain deep in their own wallets. >> this is a nice wallet. is it weather? >> it's a leather wallet? this is is nice. >> it became clear in certain areas of town, the people looking for prostitutes, they better not go there because it's a strong 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.
if you decide you don't want to pay the fine, okay? >> i think correctively we've driven down the demand definitely in certain areas. it's abundant. all the local people tell us that. >> it's done? >> just go home. >> in addition, we utilized the people we're dragging in to fund all the programs 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 is using the bathroom inside of me. so we could be a better, safer energy company. i can tell you - safety is at the heart of everything we do. we've added cutting-edge technology, like a new deepwater well cap and a state-of-the-art monitoring center, where experts watch over all drilling activity twenty-four-seven. and we're sharing what we've learned, so we can all produce energy more safely. our commitment has never been stronger.
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night, men continue to order girls to go with a simple click of a mouse. the cook county task force wants americans to know that online websites keep trafficked women ensnared in a cycle of perpetual violence. >> they, like, went crazy. this dude put me in a choke hold. >> while most might view young women as tough individuals making bad choices, brenda myers-powell sees these women as the walking wounded. in desperate need of the public's empathy and intervention. >> i've had some of the girls say it feels like someone's using the bathroom inside of me. what age did you start doing this regularly? the average prostituet 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 one 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, i was upscale. escorts, strip clubs only. the best. at the end of the road, i was turning tricks on 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 live in a community where prostitutes
worked in front of our window and looking out the window at them getting in and out of cars, having shiny dresses on and being very beautiful. asking my grandma, what are those women doing? she told me, they take their pants off and give them money. me relating to that, because men had been taking my panties off, i said, wow, i didn't know they were supposed to give me money. >> at 14, h 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 coast and stood on that corner. 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 jon almost killed her.
>> i got in the 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 the car to get away from him, and he started his car up and he 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 chanelle can turn their lives around with help and support. >> you are a beautiful, special girl.
i can look in her eyes. i can talk to her. and 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 chanelle'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 remember -- 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 it, i know some girls are on drugs and do it, but i can honestly say after meeting so many other girls that get down, i'm one of the smarter ones. i'm one of the smarter ones. you know? i know that this is ridiculous. i never was meant to be this. >> today brenda devotes her time to helping women make the same choice as 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. not some fake hug. >> so that 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. 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. >> do you want to have a family of your own someday? relax, okay, sweetie? >> okay. >> don't get nervous or anything. okay? >> can i just ask you, are you being trafficked? or is the money going elsewhere? >> it's all me. it's all my money. >> are you sure? >> yes. today at the concert,
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as nightfalls in chicago, a cold rain splashes the streets. today's investigation by the cook county human trafficking task force continues to uncover women from all across america. >> so what am i going to be under arrest for? >> prostitution. >> we add girl from minnesota. we had a girl from wisconsin. only one girl here from chicago. >> yeah. that's it. >> it says a lot for the girls on the back page. they are not staying in one location. they are moving around. they have people moving apple around too. >> the team is about to pack it in when they have one last visit from a women wanting it trade cash for sex. >> okay, swoety. don't be nervous or anything, okay is it.
>> 23-year-old jessica sansui is more than 600 miles away if her home in arkansas. >> is this all you have on? >> yeah. >> okay. >> police say this is her first run-in with the law. >> ever been arrested for anything? >> no. >> never for anything? >> no. >> how long you been in town? >> three weeks. >> where are you staying? >> at a friend's house. >> among jessica's belongs, condoms, receipts from high-end hotels and $500 in cash. they suspect she may be trafficked but she insists she is acting alone. >> can i just ask you, are you being trafficked, or is the money going elsewhere -- >> it's all me. >> are you sure? >> yes. my designificant. >> when asked about the plight of other women in the life, jessica says, it is simply a matter of free will. >> it's what they want it o do.
>> the majority of these women are being controlled. they would never tell you that. but i hear things that a lot of times in interviews other people don't hear. >> come on in. have a seat. >> while jessica is noncompliant, another young woman opens up to brenda, revealing she is in crisis. >> okay. because i don't know what's going on, but i feel you, okay? >> the 22-year-old tells brenda she has been working for a pump from new york who despite his distance controls herrer move. >> the guy you're with now, how did you meet him, your pimp? >> she was recruited by another woman h new york.
>> she said she knew what was doing wasn't right but she could not get out of it because she didn't have a pot to piss in if she didn't have prostitution. yeah, she had family. but her family had given up on her a long time ago. >> i've never been able to ask anyone for help. i've been working since i was 13. and was not able to keep up the charade for my parents. pretend tock straight. bit time i went to college -- >> the daughter of missionaries, anna dropped out of college and hopped a plane to america, hoping to find work with with a modeling agency in new york. but that turned out to be a
trafficking ring. >> they've been prostituting you out ever since? do you get any of the money? the woman that brought her in there was threatening her,er day, telling her, we're watching you, you can't move. we have people that will watch you. >> she is absolutely clinically insane. she left me 27 texts saying she would kill me. >> that's the brain that they use to have you brain washed so 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. >> you know why people think this is something that oh, they just settle for that. but actually these women are in survival mode. you don't have any peripheral vision. your tunnel vision tells you that these people are right here
and this is what i see and this is who i am an i can't get away. >> do you want to be with this pimp? >> and it's not physical bondage. it's mental bondage. if someone can control your mind, it 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'll 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, an why's traffickers have met their match in brenda powell. >> i could not sleep tonight if i let you go back there, you understand? her hard life lessons ring loud and clear in the younger woman's ears. >> i just want you to be safe.
>> least, anna sees a genuine opportunity to get away from her pump and agrees to take shelter for girls and young women and escape prostitution. >> that's what you want to do? give me a hug. you ain't going nowhere. you know, sometimes, i believe that things happen for a reason. and it is divine intervention. and i feel that's just what happened right now. >> brenda says there's no guarantees that today's intervention will turn an why'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's the best of them. so we can help them bring it out. because they're not a lot of cause.
from the mean streets of chicago's south side -- >> don't do me like that, man. >> to the affluent suburbs of illinois, the underground sex trade is booming in the midwest. >> gang members aren't just selling drugs any longer, they are selling children. >> all of the young girls are branded. >> they are literally slaves. >> you know what's going to happen then -- >> what are the real human costs for the women that service this billion dollar industry? >> put us in jail and you won't have