Rockford Police investigate two Midtown District businesses for alleged sex trade activity

ROCKFORD, Ill. (WIFR) --- Linda Castree manages the just goods fair trade market, across the street from Chantilly Lace. She says the crackdown is a positive step for a growing community.

"One of the biggest problems for women globally and locally is human trafficking. They're enslaved in either work situations and/or domestic or prostitution situations. Them having work to do that's legitimate, creative and where they make enough money to survive is very instrumental in getting them out of those horrible circumstances,” said Castree.

Midtown District businesses Chantilly Lace and Exclusive Lingerie Boutique face allegations of commercial sex trafficking activity.

"It's an indication of a shift in our community of a focus on ending the demand for the commercial sex industry and really focusing on disrupting the behavior of purchasers of human beings for sex who come to our community and try to inflict this sort of activity," said Jennifer Cacciapaglia, Manager, Mayor’s Office on Domestic Violence and Human Trafficking Prevention.

"The alleged sex trafficking that's going on in Rockford, whether it be in these businesses, or hotels or on the internet, for us, it's a big push. We're trying to reduce the amount of it," said Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea.

Stanley Campbell, a longtime advocate for the Midtown District, thinks actions like this validate efforts for change.

"We do believe that this will improve the neighborhood and we hope and pray that good businesses will move in that will draw good clientele to the neighborhood."

Investigators say the businesses are closed because of code violations. Police will continue to investigate if owners broke any state or local laws.