Former Chicago Massage Parlor Operator Sentenced to Life in Prison for Human Trafficking of Four Women
Alex Campbell, 45, of Glenview, Ill., a former northwest suburban massage parlor owner was sentenced today to life in federal prison for various 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, the Justice Department announced today. The defendant, who 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 between July 2008 and January 2010.
Campbell, also known as “Dave” and “Daddy” and who called himself “Cowboy,” was also ordered to pay approximately $124,000 restitution by U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman. There is no parole in the federal prison system.
Campbell was convicted at trial in January of this year 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. He faced a mandatory minimum sentence of 15 years in prison and a maximum of life on the sex-trafficking count alone, and the judge also imposed maximum prison terms ranging from five to 20 years on each of the remaining counts, to run concurrent with the life sentence.
“Alex Campbell abused women by violently coercing them into labor and commercial sex. By working together with law enforcement and community groups, those women were able to testify about that abuse,” said Thomas E. Perez, Assistant Attorney General for the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division. “Today’s sentence is a victory not only for the Department and the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force, but also for those women who so bravely came forward and told the truth about their exploitation.”
“If you treat human beings as property, to be branded, beaten, raped, and sold, the law will punish you to the greatest extent possible,” said Gary S. Shapiro, Acting U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois. “This sentence ensures Alex Campbell’s incapacitation, which will prevent him from victimizing other women.”
“The sentence handed down today sends a clear message to those who think they can callously prey upon vulnerable women to turn a profit,” said Gary J. Hartwig, Special Agent-in-Charge of Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations in Chicago. “HSI will continue to work with our law enforcement partners to ensure that those who engage in human trafficking are held accountable for their actions.”
Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart, whose sheriff’s police initiated the investigation, said, “I am extremely proud of the effort and resolution of all the agencies involved with the successful investigation, conviction and now sentencing of such a violent individual.”
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. She was sentenced previously to three years’ probation. In addition to the trial victims, the government presented evidence that investigators learned of approximately 20 women that Campbell victimized.
The trial 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.