Watch CBS News

Charged With Holding 33 Immigrants In Forced Labor Scheme, Cicero Woman To Be Held Until Trial

CHICAGO (CBS) -- A Cicero woman accused of keeping dozens of immigrants from Guatemala in her basement, as part of a forced labor scheme, will remain in federal custody until her trial.

Federal prosecutors said Concepcion Malinek helped those people get into the United States, and then forced them to work factory jobs she secured for them in Romeoville, keeping large parts of their wages.

Malinek was charged this week with two counts of forced labor. A federal judge on Thursday ordered her detained until trial, ruling her to be a flight risk. Malinek has dual citizenship in Guatemala.

The hearing lasted more than 90 minutes, with Malinek in tears as her attorney explained her case to the court.

Malinek faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Agents found 19 adults and 14 children at Malinek's bungalow when they raided her home on Tuesday, most of them in the basement. Prosecutors said Malinek forced them to stay there, unless they were being transported to and from work by a van that stopped at her home.

She also allegedly charged for rides to work and forced the victims to clean her property until their debt was paid -- between $15,000 and $18,000 a person.

The FBI said Malinek hasn't worked for five years, yet she collected more than $120,000 in rent last year.

One victim told investigators Malinek was "verbally abusive" and would tell them, "Immigration knows how many people live in this house. You guys are poor, and I have all the money."

Sergio Orozco, a neighbor who has called the street home for more than 20 years, said he had no idea the house across the street was home to more than one couple.

"I can't believe it. They were really hiding them or something," Orozco said. "I've never seen a bunch of people coming out from that house or anything like that."

The 33 people who were being held in Malinek's home have been detained by federal authorities. Malinek's attorney said federal officials are trying to find another place for them to live.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.