Police cars spent Monday monitoring area suspected illegal sex shops. Seven are implicated in a state and federal prostitution bust.
The sting is spread out across Rockford from South Main to East State Street. Two men and six women are in custody facing federal charges of aiding racketeering.
Law enforcement spent nearly a year and a half investigating numerous Rockford massage parlors for their involvement. Investigators used credit card transactions and receipts to connect those being charged.
They found clients used their credit cards in two swipes. First, in $40 and $60 amounts as front money, and then another charge for additional sexual services, called back money.
Rockford police say the seven massage parlors are shut down on zoning violations. They're now working to shut down the parlors permanently.
The eight people charged are detained pending their bail hearing later this week. While agents say the sting was both complicated and time consuming, they believe the joint efforts show that Rockford is serious about stopping both street and organized prostitution.
"It took us a number of years to put this together. They are very difficult and complicated cases. We were successful here so hopefully the people that we're here will think, ‘let's find an easier Mark,’ “ Rockford Police Chief Steven Pugh said.
Investigators say if found guilty, the massage parlor could face federal charges, which could mean a maximum penalty of five years in prison and a fine of up to $250,000.