Three people, two of whom are siblings formerly from Country Club Hills, are accused of acting as pimps to three underage Iowa girls who they forced across state lines to engage in prostitution in Chicago, federal authorities announced today.
Authorities learned of the alleged conspiracy, in which the team advertised the girls on the Internet, back in April when a 14-year-old female victim sneaked out of a South Side hotel room and called her mother, who then contacted Chicago police.
Malik McKee, 19, and his sister, Shuntina McKee, 23, both of Iowa City, Iowa were arrested Monday while Willie Woods, 41, of Toledo, Ohio was taken into custody Friday on federal sex trafficking charges, according to a statement from the U.S. Attorney’s office.
They were each charged with one count of conspiracy to transport minors across state lines to engage in prostitution in a criminal complaint.
The charges allege that the defendants knew that coercion, force, and the threat of force would be used to cause the victims to engage in commercial sex acts, the statement said.
The investigation began on April 25 when the 14-year-old sneaked out of a room at a hotel in the 9100 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue in the city’s Burnside neighborhood after others were asleep and called her mother in Iowa, the statement said.
The girl’s mother called the Chicago Police and officers responded to the hotel and contacted federal authorities.
Online advertisements with the girls' photos were posted on various Internet sites in Chicago and elsewhere, hotel records, bus records, and other evidence show that the defendants acted as pimps and posted online ads promoting prostitution of the three victims – Minors A, B, and C, all from Iowa and ages 14, 16 and 16, respectively, at the time, according to the complaint.
In the ads, the girls were listed as escorts and wore lingerie and high heels in the photos. Woods apparently had a collection of women's shoes which he had the girls put on in the ads, officials said.
In April, Malik McKee and Woods purchased bus tickets for the victims and transported them from Iowa City to Chicago to engage in prostitution, officials said. Once in Chicago the girls were supplied with marijuana and Ecstacy pills.
The government is seeking to have all three defendants transferred to Chicago in custody to face the charges here, according to the statement.
Sex-trafficking of minors carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine, according to the statement.