WITI-TV, MILWAUKEE— Local children were shipped to Chicago to work as prostitutes.
As it turns out, their alleged pimp is a Milwaukee man, who prosecutors say, advertised the crime on the side of his van in very crude language.
37-year-old Sean Patrick was charged in federal court Wednesday.
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In the past, Patrick was convicted of shooting and killing another man over a dispute about prostitutes, and the latest charges involve prostitutes as well.
Outside of Milwaukee's Intermodal Station, there is plenty of bus traffic, but U.S. prosecutors say one man used the transportation system in an act of criminal traffic involving children.
Patrick was charged in federal court Wednesday with sex trafficking of children. Investigators say between 2006 and 2010, he conspired to recruit, harbor and transport girls under the age of 18 for sex acts.
"Like all others that we see, he preyed upon their vulnerabilities and used it to his advantage," Carmen Pitre of Sojourner Family Peace Center said.
Pitre says this criminal commerce isn't as rare as you might think.
"It's happening a lot in Milwaukee. We have a specialized task force. We have officers that are dedicated to dealing with the issue," Pitre said.
Federal prosecutors say Patrick played the role of a pimp, sending at least three girls, turned prostitutes, by bus to Chicago.
Court documents describe the 37-year-old as also using a gold 1992 Chevrolet conversion van with the words "Ho Hauler" inscribed on the front quarter panel. A van similar to that description can be found on Twitter: a conversion van with a gold finish graces the page.
"It's just demeaning that he was riding those girls around in that type of van," Pitre said.
The criminal complaint says Patrick punished his victims if they missed the bus by choking them, stomping them or making them stand naked in the street next to the "Ho Hauler."
Pitre calls that behavior controlling and well beyond concerning.
"He felt entitled to do whatever he wanted with his property, which should be appalling to all of us," Pitre said.
The U.S. Attorney's Office says as part of a plea agreement, Patrick gave up more than $10,000 from the sex trafficking operation, and the van.
Patrick has agreed to plead guilty to the charges, and could spend the rest of his life in prison.
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