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Illinois woman arrested 33 Guatemalans in the basement, they are forced to work, threatened with deportation, authorities say

Concepcion Malinek, 49, was arrested on forced labor charges after a federal investigation.
(Kendall County Sheriff’s Office)

An Illinois woman was arrested after she held 33 Guatemalan immigrants, including children, in her basement, forcing them to work, and threatened with deportation, federal authorities said.

Concepcion Malinek faces forced labor charges the following Tuesday morning raid at her Cicero home, where they discovered 19 adults and 14 children, all believed to be from Guatemala, in the basement, a 12-page complaint filed in the Northern District of Illinois stated.

It is unclear whether the Guatemalans were in the country legally, but a victim told the authorities that he believed that a majority of them had political asylum requested. He claimed that he, at least, two of them were in the country illegally, the complaint stated.

The federal government began investigating Malinek in March after a person who worked with one of the victims to contact the FBI about possible human trafficking takes place in the home.

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Malinek helped the immigrants to travel to the U.S. in 2018 and 2019, but then accused them of through her thousands of dollars once they were on American soil, the complaint stated. Pay her back, Malinek allegedly they are forced to work in a factory in Romeoville and took them to and from work in a white van.

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The 49-year-old kept track of the Guatemalans’ debts in a ledger, which turned out to contain the signatures and the “contract-type language with respect to the debt Malinek,” authorities said. One of the “contracts”, said the victim was “free to go or stay” after the debt was settled.

The immigrants received a minuscule amount of the money they earned, according to the complaint, because the majority of it went to Malinek to pay the debt that they owe, authorities said.

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One of the victims told authorities Malinek claimed that he owed her $ 18,000 for him to use her name and hometown on his immigration paperwork. He said Malinek allowed his 15-year-old daughter to live on the first floor of the house, but to the left of him and other people in the basement. He would only be able to see his daughter “for a limited period of time” had to ask for permission to leave the basement, according to the complaint.

Another victim, who allegedly agreed to pay Malinek about $37,000 to him and his family in the U.S., said he lived in the basement with his wife, 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter.

Malinek allegedly held her prisoners quiet about the scheme by threatening deportation, and dared them to call immigration officials.

“They already know that you’re here, so go ahead and call them,” she told them, according to the complaint.

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She’d told one person, “immigration know how many people live in this house, you are poor and I have all the money.”

Malinek is expected to appear in court on Thursday.

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