CHICAGO—Three defendants have been arrested in Iowa and Ohio on federal charges filed in Chicago for allegedly engaging in sex trafficking of three minor girls they transported earlier this year from Iowa City to Chicago for prostitution, federal law enforcement officials announced today. The defendants were each charged with one count of conspiracy to transport minors across state lines to engage in prostitution in a criminal complaint filed in U.S. District Court in Chicago. 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.
Defendant Malik McKee, 19, and his sister, Shuntina McKee, 23, both of Iowa City and formerly of suburban Country Club Hills, Illinois, were arrested yesterday in Iowa City. The third defendant, Willie Woods, 41, of Toledo, Ohio, and formerly of Iowa City, was arrested Friday in Toledo. The government is seeking to have all three defendants transferred to Chicago in custody to face the charges here.
The arrests and charges were announced by Gary S. Shapiro, Acting United States Attorney for the Northern District of Illinois; William C. Monroe, Acting Special Agent in Charge of the Chicago Office of the Federal Bureau of Investigation; and Garry F. McCarthy, Superintendent of the Chicago Police Department. The FBI and CPD conducted the investigation, in coordination with the Cook County Human Trafficking Task Force. Federal prosecutors and law enforcement authorities in the Southern District of Iowa and the Northern District of Ohio also provided assistance.
According to the complaint, the investigation began on April 25, 2012, when one of the victims—Minor A, who was 14 at the time—snuck out of a room at a hotel in the 9100 block of South Cottage Grove Avenue in Chicago after others were asleep and called her mother in Iowa. The girl’s mother called the Chicago Police and officers responded to the hotel and contacted federal authorities.
The complaint states that online advertisements 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. In April this year, Malik McKee and Woods allegedly purchased bus tickets for the victims and transported them from Iowa City to Chicago to engage in prostitution. All three defendants allegedly benefitted financially from the charged conspiracy.
The government is being represented by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Megan Church and Bethany Biesenthal.
Sex trafficking of minors carries a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and a maximum of life in prison and a $250,000 fine. If convicted, the court must impose a reasonable sentence under federal statutes and the advisory United States Sentencing Guidelines.
The public is reminded that a complaint contains only charges and is not evidence of guilt. The defendants are presumed innocent and are entitled to a fair trial at which the government has the burden of proving guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.