Cook County Sheriff’s Police Arrest Male Suspect from Chicago Accused of Promoting Prostitution; Rescue 2 Victims from Sex Trafficking

Peter Zhang, promoting prostitution suspect (Cook County Sheriff's Office)
Peter Zhang, promoting prostitution suspect (Cook County Sheriff's Office).

Cook County Sheriff’s Police arrested a Chicago man for promoting prostitution and rescued two victims of sex trafficking following an undercover investigation prompted by a tip from the National Human Trafficking Hotline, Cook County Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today, Saturday, October 3, 2020.

Man Zhang, also known as Peter Zhang, age 42, of the 500 block of West 26th Street in Chicago, was arrested Friday afternoon after members of the Sheriff’s Police Special Victims Unit (SVU) executed a search warrant on his apartment.

The investigation was launched after SVU members received a tip on Tuesday, Sept. 29, from the National Human Trafficking Hotline that multiple young women were being trafficked out of the building where Zhang resides. The tip provided cell phone numbers that Zhang allegedly used to arrange appointments for the victims.

SVU investigators were able to match phone numbers from the tip to phone numbers on various websites advertising escort services and that same day were able to witness activity consistent with prostitution occurring at the building.

Investigators observed two males enter the building and then leave a short time later. One of the men was stopped by the investigators and confirmed that he paid for sex with one of the victims in the building after he contacted one of the phone numbers listed on an adult website.

On Wednesday, Sept. 30, undercover SVU investigators began attempts to make a “date” with one of the victims, and on Thursday, Oct. 1, received a reply. The undercover officer went to an apartment on the 2nd floor of the building where he met the victim, a 21- year-old woman, who agreed to sexual intercourse in exchange for $200. Once the agreement was made, the officer signaled to other members of the team to enter the apartment.

The investigators learned that Zhang lived in an apartment on the same floor, and after knocking on the door and receiving no response, they obtained and executed a search warrant that afternoon for Zhang’s apartment where they found Zhang and another trafficking victim.

Investigators recovered $3,000 in cash, approximately 20 cellphones used to arrange “dates” for victims, contracts between Zhang and the victims, hundreds of condoms, boxes of lubricant used for sex, and a surveillance system that monitored the exterior of the building and the apartment where the first victim was located. Additionally, they found text messages from Zhang to the first victim warning her that the investigators were outside and not to say anything to the undercover officer.

Both women were offered social services by the Cook County Sheriff’s Office and were released without charges. The first victim agreed to receive social services. The second refused services but was provided information on how to obtain help from the Sheriff’s Office if she reconsiders.

Zhang was charged with promoting prostitution within 1,000 feet of a school, a Class 3 felony. He appeared in court Saturday, October 3, 2020, where he was given a $100,000 D bond and ordered to surrender his passport.

The public is reminded that the defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty by the government in a court of law.

Peter Zhang, promoting prostitution suspect (Cook County Sheriff's Office)
Peter Zhang, promoting prostitution suspect (Cook County Sheriff’s Office).

The Cook County Sheriff’s Office aggressively investigates allegations of human trafficking and encourages anyone who is a victim of trafficking or has information about a victim of trafficking to call the Sheriff’s Human Trafficking Hotline at 312-718-4451 or contact the National Human Trafficking Hotline by calling (888) 373-7888 or texting HELP” or “INFO” to SMS 233733.



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