CHICAGO – A federal jury today convicted Alex Campbell, 45, a northwest Chicago suburban massage parlor owner, of various federal crimes including sex-trafficking, forced labor, harboring illegal aliens, confiscating passports to further forced labor and extortion involving four foreign women whom he mentally and physically abused while forcing them to work for him between July 2008 and January 2010. Campbell was found guilty of three counts each of forced labor, harboring illegal aliens for financial gain, and confiscating passports and other immigration documents to force the victims to work, and one count each of sex trafficking by force and extortion. The jury deliberated approximately two to three hours beginning last Thursday afternoon following a three-week trial in U.S. District Court. The trial showed that Campbell, who formerly operated the Day and Night Spa on Northwest Highway in Mt. Prospect, Ill., used violence and threats of violence to force three women from the Ukraine and one from Belarus to work for him without pay and, at times, little to no subsistence.
Campbell, also known as “Dave” and “Daddy,” formerly of Glenview, Ill., remains in federal custody without bond and faces a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life on the sex-trafficking count alone, as well as prison terms ranging from a maximum of 5 to 20 years on each of the remaining counts.
U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman scheduled a hearing on post-trial motions for April 19, 2012. No date was immediately set for sentencing.
“The Civil Rights Division is committed to bringing human traffickers to justice and to protecting the victims of modern-day slavery,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division. “These crimes against the individual rights of the most vulnerable members of our society will not be tolerated in the United States.”
“I commend the prosecutors and investigators for their dedication and teamwork in working with the victims to bring this case to trial and achieve a successful result,” said Patrick J. Fitzgerald, U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois.
“Forced labor and sex trafficking preys upon vulnerable women and is tantamount to modern-day slavery,” said Gary J. Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of ICE Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Chicago. “The jury has vindicated the rights of four women who suffered mental and physical abuse, sexual exploitation, extortion and threats of deportation, all so Alex Campbell could make a profit. HSI is at the forefront of the government's fight against human trafficking. We will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to combat this serious crime.”
All four victims testified as government witnesses at trial, as well as co-defendant, Danielle John, 25, who pleaded guilty before trial to two counts of harboring illegal aliens for financial gain and is also awaiting sentencing.
The testimony and evidence showed that Campbell recruited and groomed foreign women without legal status in the United States to become part of his “Family,” which he claimed was an international organization that would provide them with support. He offered them jobs in his massage parlor, a place to live, assistance with immigration and lured each of them to enter into a romantic relationship with him. After gaining their trust, he forced the victims to get tattooed with his moniker, which he said made them his property and allowed him to stop paying them. At the same time, he acquired the women’s passports and visas. The women were forced to work long hours every day and do as Campbell instructed them, and they were beaten and punished if they disobeyed him.
Trial testimony established that Campbell confiscated passports and identity documents from three of the victims, as well as harbored and transported them to ensure their continued labor. Campbell forced one victim to engage in commercial sex acts with customers at various other massage parlors, but not at the Day and Night Spa, which testimony showed he operated “cleanly” to avoid problems with law enforcement. He extorted another victim to pay him more than $25,000 to leave the “Family” by threatening to send a sexually-explicit video recording to her parents in Belarus.
The Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office assisted in the investigation, which was coordinated by the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force. The task force, together with the Salvation Army Family and Community Services STOP-IT Initiative Against Human Trafficking, operate a toll-free hotline, (877) 606-3158, which victims of trafficking or those with information about human trafficking can call for assistance. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Diane MacArthur and Steven Grimes and Special Litigation Counsel John Richmond of the Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit.