Gladys Ibanez Olea, 34, of Highland Park, (inset) was arrested at her residence in the 500 block of Onwentsia Avenue in Highland Park after four human trafficking victims were found inside the home, police said. | Background Photo: Google Street View; Inset: Provided

A suspect is in custody after law enforcement rescued four human trafficking victims, including two children, who were found in a home in Highland Park.

The Highland Park Police Department received a tip in late January regarding potential human trafficking occurring at a residence in the 500 block of Onwentsia Avenue in Highland Park.

An initial investigation determined the tip had merit and warranted a referral to the Lake County Sheriff’s Office Special Investigation Group (SIG) for further investigation, according to Lake County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief Christopher Covelli.

Members of SIG, Highland Park Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations conducted further investigation and obtained substantial evidence showing Gladys Ibanez Olea, 34, of the 500 block of Onwentsia Avenue in Highland Park, was engaged in human trafficking, Covelli said.

Detectives presented the evidence obtained to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office, which approved and drafted a search warrant for Olea’s residence.

A Lake County judge authorized the search warrant after hearing the facts of the case.

SIG, Highland Park Police Department and Homeland Security Investigations last Wednesday conducted the search warrant.

Covelli said additional evidence was located showing Olea’s involvement in having trafficked four people from Mexico.

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All four victims were rescued, including a 19-year-old woman and her two-year-old son, as well as a 22-year-old woman and her 15-year-old brother.

All four were relocated to safety and are receiving services.

Covelli said the investigation revealed Olea arranged for the four to be illegally escorted into the United States in July.

Neither of the adult victims knew each other at the time nor did the juvenile victims know each other.

Covelli said Olea promised housing, safety and jobs to the four and took possession of their identification, money and other goods after they arrived.

Olea allegedly forced the adult victims and the 15-year-old into jobs to pay off their “debt” for safe entry into the United States.

The victims were forced to give the money they earned to Olea, Covelli said.

Covelli said the “debt” they owed Olea continually grew and it appeared very unlikely they would be able to pay off the “debt.”

“The victims were under the control of Olea. There were padlocks around the kitchen cabinets and refrigerator in order to control what the victims ate and when they ate,” Covelli said.

Olea is accused of forcing the 15-year-old victim to work rather than attend school. She allegedly created fraudulent identification for him to make it appear he was 19 years old.

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According to statements made to investigators, Olea would prevent the two-year-old from falling asleep during the day by giving him cold baths in order to make the toddler sleep longer during nighttime hours.

The victims were told their remaining family in Mexico would be killed if they did not continue to comply with Olea, Covelli said.

The Lake County State’s Attorney’s Office on Tuesday reviewed the facts and circumstances of the case and drafted an arrest warrant.

Olea was charged with eight counts of trafficking in persons and seven counts of involuntary servitude. Additional charges are possible.

A Lake County judge authorized the warrant and members of SIG arrested Olea at her residence without incident.

Lake County Sheriff John Idleburg called human trafficking a “real problem across the United States and right here in Lake County.”

“I am thankful these four victims were saved from their abuser and are no longer living in fear. Traffickers prey on the vulnerabilities of their victims. They exploit their victims for personal gain,” Idleburg said.

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“Our Special Investigations Group has rescued a number of victims over the last several years, and rescuing victims while holding traffickers accountable remains a top priority,” he added.

Olea appeared in First Appearance Court Wednesday morning where Lake County Judge Raymond Collins ordered her detained until a detention hearing can take place after prosecutors filed a petition to detain her pending trial.

The judge scheduled the detention hearing for Thursday afternoon.

Lake County State’s Attorney Eric Rinehart called labor and sex trafficking some of the “most detestable crimes in our community.”

“The Sheriff’s Department, Highland Park Police, and our federal partners collaborated successfully with our office through our Human Trafficking Task Force to bring this offender into custody. Our office is dedicated to finding, prosecuting, and incarcerating those who would use others for their own financial gain,” Rinehart said.

Highland Park Police Chief Lou Jogmen said the investigation began because of a community tip.

“It underscores how vital it is for community members to speak up if someone’s actions or behaviors seem suspicious. Together, we can work to build safer communities where everyone can thrive,” Jogmen said.