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October 8, 2020Chicago, IL, United StatesHuman Smuggling/Trafficking

Suburban Chicago couple charged with child labor trafficking

CHICAGO — A suburban Chicago couple was charged in federal court Thursday with child labor trafficking, for allegedly forcing an illegal alien teen from Guatemala to work for them. The case is being investigated by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the U.S. Department of Labor, with significant assistance from the Aurora, Illinois, police department and the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

Santos Teodoro AC-Salazar, 23, and Olga Choc Laj, 30, both of Aurora, Illinois, are charged with using force, threats of force and threatening abuse of the law and legal process in order to force the minor female to comply.

Court documents allege Choc Laj accompanied the teenage victim to the United States from Guatemala, having given false identification to U.S. border authorities to illegally smuggle her into the country. The charges further allege that once in the U.S., Choc Laj harbored the victim at her Illinois residence and forced the victim to provide labor and services for Choc Laj’s financial gain. AC-Salazar is alleged to have later joined Choc Laj in their residence and participated in the labor trafficking by, among other things, forcing the victim to perform household chores, including taking care of the defendants’ infant child.

The public is reminded that charges are not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. The charges in the complaint are punishable by up to 20 years in federal prison. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory U.S. Sentencing Guidelines.

Updated: 10/14/2020