WAUKEGAN, Ill. (STMW) – A north suburban sheriff’s deputy has been arrested in connection with a human trafficking group from Chicago, Pioneer Press is reporting.
Lake County Deputy Sheriff Eric Francke, 33, was arrested and charged Friday with solicitation of sexual acts and obstruction of justice after a month-long investigation by Mundelein police.
Mundelein Police Chief Eric Guenther said officers made a routine traffic stop along Route 45 on April 3 and eventually learned the two men were driving a 23-year-old woman to Antioch to force her to have sex.
Aaron Thurmond, 22, and Jeffrey Horton, 27, both of the 10000 block of Walden Park Drive in Chicago, were charged with human trafficking/involuntary servitude, promoting prostitution and money laundering.
Police now believe Francke was one of their customers, Guenther said, and the deputy was charged with obstruction of justice because he deleted several electronic messages that investigators were seeking.
Guenther said Mundelein is still investigation Francke on other potential charges, but wanted to make an initial arrest due to the nature of his job.
Immediately after paying 10 percent of a $10,000 bond, he was released and the Lake County Sheriff’s Office placed Francke on paid administrative leave.
Investigators did not know Francke was a deputy sheriff when he was first identified as a customer. Guenther said he immediately called the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office and Lake County Sheriff’s office when his officers found out.
Francke has been a deputy sheriff since September 2008 and is currently assigned to the investigations division.
Guenther said he does not believe any other deputies were involved with the two men from Chicago. No other customers have been arrested.
The 23-year-old woman from Champaign was forced to be a prostitute for more than a year and was beaten if she didn’t cooperate. Guenther said she was immediately released without charges.
(Source: Sun-Times Media Wire © Chicago Sun-Times 2013. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)