Landlord accused of labor trafficking, abusing tenants
BY RUMMANA HUSSAIN Criminal Courts Reporter November 19, 2013 1:05PM
Updated: December 21, 2013 6:27AM
The roommates rented the South Chicago apartment, perhaps thinking they might have a good rapport with their landlords’ family.
After all, one of the tenants had attended the same high school as 26-year-old Roy Estivez, a relative of Estivez’s said.
But Estivez was allegedly a nightmare of a property owner who tortured and exploited the two mentally challenged men since the day the pair moved into the garden apartment in late August, Cook County prosecutors said Tuesday.
Estivez, who is the first person in the county charged in a labor-trafficking case, took advantage of the renters for the next two months, allegedly stealing their paychecks and burning their bodies and faces with a scorching knife that he would heat over flames, State’s Attorney Anita Alvarez said.
To get the men, ages 22 and 23, to fear him, Estivez, of Calumet City, is accused of threatening their lives and their families’ and told them he was “mobbed up” and had police officers on his payroll.
Estivez, who had keys to the unit, also allegedly sexually assaulted his younger victim with a power drill, authorities said.
“In the United States, forced labor is much more prevalent than any of us realize. It’s extremely difficult to detect …” Alvarez said, after Estivez was ordered held in lieu of $500,000 bail for with aggravated involuntary servitude, involuntary servitude and aggravated criminal sexual assault.
Estivez, who appeared before Judge James Brown in jeans and a track jacket, made the abused renters take second and third jobs and made them work overtime so he could cash in on their hard work, Assistant State’s Attorney Mary Anna Planey alleged.
He often denied the men food and told them to eat at work, Planey said.
When one of the men got fired from a job, Estivez beat, kicked and whipped both with an electrical cord, Planey alleged.
Estivez is accused of frequently pouring hydrogen peroxide on the men’s wounds and telling them they needed to get another job while beating them.
One of the men worked at a factory, and the other worked at restaurants, Alvarez said.
On Oct. 20, the 22-year-old man’s boss noticed his injuries, and the victim told him about the physical abuse, authorities said.
That victim, who was hospitalized and was encouraged to call police, never returned to the apartment.
Estivez, a father of two, takes care of his elderly grandmother, defense attorney Juan Calzonzi III said.