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Before the house on South Millard Avenue became a place where men in their work uniforms came to fulfill their "VIP fantasies," it was a simple family home on a block with relatively little crime. The small two-story residence — owned by the same family since — is next to an alley and across the street from Los Globos dance hall. Jessica Saldana, who lives on the block with her husband and two pit bulls, said it's a quiet community, and city statistics show that the block of South Millard Avenue is in one of the safer police beats in Chicago.
Montero left one location after the owner sold the house and another after a financial dispute with the landlord. She fled a building near 31st Street and Springfield Avenue after a neighbor noticed unusual foot traffic at Montero's apartment. It was a friendly enough statement — "Hey, you have a lot of visitors.
You must have a lot of friends. Shrewd and resourceful, she placed ads in Hoy, the Tribune Co. The next-door neighbor said he was grilling carne asada in the backyard one day when Montero invited him over for a massage. He declined but didn't suspect prostitution took place next door. There was nothing unusual about the men who pulled up throughout the day in their work uniforms and left about a half-hour later, he said.
The homeowners, Maria Hurtado and her husband, Braulio, didn't suspect anything either and count themselves as victims of the madam. Yet a year after the police busted Montero's sex trafficking ring, the city of Chicago sued the couple over the brothel.
Attorneys for the city asked a Cook County judge to declare that their home was a public nuisance and to hold them responsible for numerous building code violations. Roderick Drew, a spokesman for the city's Law Department, said the homeowners have made "satisfactory progress" on the housing violations. Hurtado pleaded ignorance when asked how a prostitution ring could operate at a building she owned without her knowledge.