Mon | Sep 25, 2017

Charges: Sex traffickers took hundreds from Thailand to US

Published:Friday | May 26, 2017 | 5:00 AM

MINNEAPOLIS (AP):

Hundreds of women were brought from Thailand to the United States and forced to be "modern-day sex slaves," according to an indictment unsealed yesterday that charges high-level members of what authorities called a sophisticated sex-trafficking ring that concealed millions of dollars in earnings.

The indictment brings the total number of people charged to 38, making it one of the largest sex-trafficking prosecutions in the US, said acting US Attorney Gregory Brooker. Authorities say the operation lured Thai women to the US with promises of a better life, then forced them to work as prostitutes until they could pay off often insurmountable bondage debts.

 

MILLIONS OF DOLLARS

 

The latest indictment goes after the money estimated in the tens of millions of dollars as well as high-level members of the organisation, such as "house bosses". It charges 21 people with various counts, including conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, sex trafficking by use of force or threats, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business. It builds upon an indictment unsealed in October that charged 17 people, some of whom have pleaded guilty.

Alex Khu, special agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Minneapolis, said going after the enterprise's finances was important.

"We hit them hard," Khu said. "It was a gut punch."

Khu's agency discovered the international ring after it began looking into a sex-trafficking case in the Twin Cities in 2014.