A couple from Aurora, Illinois has been charged in federal court with child labor and human trafficking. It is alleged that the couple forced an undocumented Guatemalan teenager into work and withheld her earnings.
Santos Teodoro Ac-Salazar, 23, and Olga Choc Laj, 30, have been charged with forcing labor using force, threats of force, and also the threatened abuse of law and legal process. The couple is in the custody of law enforcement and has already made initial appearances in a federal court in Chicago.
Illegal Trafficking and Falsifying Identity
According to the charges, the teenage victim who has been identified only as 'Victim A' in the complaint, was accompanied by Choc Laj from Guatemala to the US. She provided fake identifications to the US immigration authorities.
"Victim A is a citizen of Guatemala and is 17 years old. According to Victim A, she decided in or around early 2019 to come to the United States and contacted a smuggler, who put her in touch with CHOC LAJ. Victim A did not know CHOC LAJ prior to the smuggler putting them in contact," the complaint said.
Exploitation of the Teenager
Upon reaching the US, the victim was first taken to Virginia, and later brought to Aurora, Illinois, and housed in a residence by Choc Laj. She forced 'Victim A' into providing labor and services for her own personal gain, stated the complaint. Also, 'Victim A' expressed her desire to attend school but Choc Laj denied her request.
Choc Laj was joined by AC-Salazar later in her Aurora residence. He also participated in labor trafficking, among several other crimes such as possessing fraudulent documents stating that 'Victim A' was an adult.
He also forced the teenager to carry out household chores, including caring for their infant child according to the complaint. Another minor, 'Victim B' was also found to be held by the couple and assaulted by AC-Salazar. The duo was arrested by the authorities on 4 February 2020.