Human Trafficking in Illinois Information Sheet

Helping Families. Supporting Communities. Empowering Individuals.


"Together we can fight this modern form of slavery." - Michelle R. B. Saddler, Secretary, Illinois Department of Human Services

In a 2003 New York Times article, Chicago was identified as a national hub for human trafficking. Chicago's access to airports and major interstates offers strategic entry points for traffickers and their victims. The city's major events and attractions make Chicago a tourist destination where demand is high, enabling traffickers to exploit vulnerable women and children. Additionally, foreign national trafficking victims can go unnoticed due to high concentrations of immigrant populations in Illinois.

  • An estimated minimum of 16,000 to 25,000 women and girls are victims of commercial sexual exploitation in Chicago every year.1
  • In October 2009, Cook County Sheriff's police broke up an international trafficking ring.2
  • 44 adult arrests were made in Chicago during a child trafficking sting called Operation Cross Country in February 2009.3
  • From December 2007 to June 2009, 257 calls were made from Illinois to the National Human Trafficking Resource Center. This is the fifth highest number of calls after Texas, California, New York, and Florida.4
  • In 2005 in Rockford, federal authorities found seven brothels advertising as "spas" harboring Chinese and Korean women.1
  • The Chicago-based National Immigrant Justice Center at Heartland Alliance served 80 survivors of trafficking from 2003-2008, most coming from Illinois. The majority of these were female.5
  • There have been no prosecutions under the Illinois anti-trafficking legislation to date.
  • Less than 1,700 victims have been rescued and certified in the US since 2001. The majority of these are women.6

The Trafficking of Persons and Involuntary Servitude Act of Illinois

  • Passed in 2005 as one of the country's strictest state laws on trafficking.
  • Defines three new criminal offenses
    1. Trafficking in persons for forced labor or services
    2. Involuntary servitude of a minor
    3. Involuntary servitude
  • Increases access to health and social services for victims
  • Imposes severe penalties on traffickers.

Internet Resources

24 Hour Hotline Numbers

To Report a Suspected Case of Trafficking

National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline



Chicago Salvation Army Trafficking Outreach Program and Intervention Techniques Hotline


Identifying Victims of Trafficking:

Red Flags

Is the victim…

  • Accompanied by a controlling person?
  • Isolated either physically or culturally?
  • Transported to and from work?

Does the victim…

  • Have any kind of identification?
  • Have little control over his or her schedule?
  • Lack concrete short or long term plans?
  • Live and work in the same place?
  • Show signs of physical assault including: branding, tattooing, broken bones, or other signs of abuse?
  • Exhibit submissive or fearful behavior in the presence of others?
  • Have inconsistencies in stories?
  • Lack knowledge about a given community or whereabouts?
  • Date much older, abusive, or controlling men and is a minor?

Victims of human trafficking include men, women, children, U.S. born, and foreign national, for the purposes of domestic servitude, child sex trafficking, labor trafficking, prostitution, and debt bondage. Victims can look like the people you see everyday, but being aware of these "red flag" indicators may help you to look beneath the surface and identify those living in slavery.

If you suspect an incidence of human trafficking, please call the National Hotline at 1.888.3737.888

Call 911 if the victim is in immediate danger.

What You Can Do

  • Join the Illinois Rescue and Restore Coalition. Stay updated on human trafficking events, trainings, and news. Work with coalition members to improve the anti-trafficking strategy in Illinois.
  • Spread the word. Tell your friends, family, neighbors, and co-workers about the reality of human trafficking in our communities. Raising awareness about the issue is essential to mobilize communities against modern day slavery.
  • Participate in human trafficking trainings and other local efforts. Learn how you can get involved with local social service organizations, churches, or schools in their campaigns against trafficking.
  • Support local organizations. Your time, energy, and other resources are invaluable to organizations dedicated to preventing trafficking and to protecting the rights of victims.
  • Provide pro-bono services. Victims are in need of legal, health, social, and counseling services.
  • Hang posters and distribute brochures on human trafficking. Request posters and brochures from Illinois Rescue and Restore at to hang in your communities.

If you would like more information and resources on human trafficking, please contact the Illinois Rescue and Restore Coalition at or call 312-793-0014.


1. O'Leary, C., Howard, O. "The Prostitution of Women and Girls in Metropolitan Chicago:A Preliminary Prevalence Report. Center for Impact Research. Chicago, 2001

2. "3 Thai Women Found in Human Trafficking Sting." Chicago Breaking News Center, 16 October 2009.

3. "44 in Illinois nabbed in child prostitution sweep." Associated Press, 23 February 2009.

4. National Human Trafficking Resource Center Hotline, 2007-2009. PolarisProjectDavis.pptx+illinois+operation+cross+country+trafficking&cd=4&hl=en&ct=clnk&gl=us

5. Communication with National Immigrant Justice Center, November 3, 2009.

6. "Attorney General's Annual Report to Congress and Assessment of U.S. Government Activities to Combat Trafficking in Persons Fiscal Year 2008." June 2009.