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Convicted Illinois pimp Alex “Cowboy” Campbell was sentenced to life in prison for prostitution, the Chicago Tribune reports.

In addition to raping and terrorizing the women he forced into prostitution, Campbell, 47, branded the women with homages of himself in highly visible places on their bodies. Life sentences are not common for pimps, but U.S. District Judge Robert Gettleman said the branding of the women warranted one in Campbell’s case.

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“I think the worst thing you did to these girls, frankly, is branding them the way you did,” Gettleman said before imposing a life sentence on Campbell. “They can’t get rid of those tattoos. … They have a life sentence, all of them. Every time they look in the mirror. … And it’s gonna hurt. Their life sentences compel a life sentence for you.”

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The Chicago Tribune has more on this story:

Hearing those words, a 26-year-old woman who testified a short time earlier about being forced into prostitution by Campbell quietly started crying. For most of the nearly 51/2-hour hearing, the woman, identified only as Nicole, sat stoically as Campbell declared he had been racially targeted for prosecution as a black man and dismissed her testimony as lies, all the while calling her “Trinity,” a name she testified he gave her when he brought her into what he called his “family.”

Campbell, who lived in Glenview and ran a spa in Mount Prospect, was convicted by a federal jury nearly a year ago of multiple counts of forced labor, harboring illegal immigrants, sex trafficking by force and extortion. Evidence at trial showed that Campbell forced four women, three from Ukraine and one from Belarus, to work for him with little or no pay from 2008 to 2010.

Prosecutors contended that Campbell recruited the women — all here illegally — to join his “family” by promising jobs in massage parlors and places to live. Once they began working for him, Campbell seized immigration papers, forced them into sex acts and withheld payment from them, prosecutors alleged.

Campbell denied all of the allegations made against him during his trial. Federal agents found the books “The Pimp’s Bible (The Sweet Science of Sin)” and an autobiography of a Chicago pimp named Iceberg Slim during the execution of a search warrant on his property. During his two-hour remarks, he suggested they were planted. “I knew nothing about the pimp game,” Campbell declared, raising the books. “I’ve never even seen these books in my life.”

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However, the judge believed the four women who testified against Campbell. He also said that “Au Pair in America,” the agency that promised them work  in the U.S. but did not follow through on their commitment, “basically cut them loose.”

Federal prosecutors counted as many as 20 women who were victims of Campbell’s prostitution ring. Though, Campbell’s life sentence is rare, Assistant U.S. Attorney Diane MacArthur, said that may change.

“Sentences are starting to reflect the severity of the conduct that has been used against (victims) as well as the important message that needs to be sent out so as not to further glorify people who style themselves as pimps,” said MacArthur, who prosecuted the case.

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