Landlord allegedly tortured tenants, forced them to work

November 19, 2013 (CHICAGO)

He is the first person in Cook County to be charged with labor trafficking. He was the victim's landlord, according to Cook County State's Attorney Anita Alvarez.

"He then threatened and beat them to get second and third jobs to work overtime. Estivez kept the money and the victims were not allowed to keep the proceeds from any labor they performed," Alvarez said.

Alvarez says the alleged abuse -- which included burns with a hot knife, whippings with electrical cords and sexual assault -- happened between August and October 2013. The boss of one of the victims, ages 22 and 23, noticed the injuries.

Estivez is charged with aggravated involuntary servitude and aggravated criminal sexual assault. He's the first person charged with labor trafficking under the Human Trafficking Initiative, which was enacted by the Cook County State's Attorney's Office.

"Forced labor is more prevalent than any of us realize. It's extremely difficult to detect as in this case. Victims are often isolated and often as a result of language or cultural barriers, do not want to come forward," Alvarez said.

Estivez is being held on a $500,000 bond.

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