KIMBERLY - Police have started investigating a possible operation of human trafficking in the area. It's the type of crime the FBI describes as modern-day slavery. In this case, according to search warrants, a Fox Valley restaurant owner is the suspect.
Fox Valley Metro police recently launched a human trafficking investigation in both Kimberly and the town of Harrison.
"On Jan. 15, we did execute four search warrants at three different residences," explained Officer Scott VanSchyndel.
There is a suspect listed in the search warrants. The suspect is listed as either having at one time owned or rented each of the three residences searched, as well as a Chinese restaurant in Kimberly. According to the search warrants, the suspect is accused of smuggling a woman into the country, forcing her to work at the restaurant without pay and beating her.
FOX 11 has decided not to name any of the names within the search warrants and we've also decided not to show the restaurant or any of the homes that were searched until charges or an arrest is made. Police tell us that could possibly happen within the next week.
"We're sorting through the evidence currently and we're also still speaking with more people involved in the case," said VanSchyndel.
Some of that evidence includes bank statements, immigration documents and tax forms. Several agencies, including the FBI, are working with Fox Valley Metro police.
"There are possible state and federal charges," VanSchyndel told FOX 11.
Police told us human trafficking is a growing problem in the Valley.
"Drugs, gangs, prostitution, that kind of stuff can stem from human trafficking. So we take these things very seriously," explained VanSchyndel.
The suspect listed in the search warrant did not return our calls for an interview.
The Wisconsin Justice Department will not say whether its criminal investigators are involved in this case.
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