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21 indicted in Thailand-to-US sex-trafficking ring

MINNEAPOLIS – Hundreds of women were brought from Thailand, the US and forced to be “modern sex slaves,” according to an indictment against 21 people in what authorities called a sophisticated sex-trafficking ring that used an elaborate money laundering scheme to hide millions of dollars in profit.

The indictment, unsealed Thursday, builds on a case in October in which 17 people were indicted for their role in the operation that lured Thai women to the U.S. with promises of a better life, then they are forced to work as prostitutes until they could pay often insurmountable bondage of debt.

The latest indictment comes after the money. This costs 21 people with various counts, including conspiracy to commit prostitution, prostitution by use of violence or threats, conspiracy to engage in money laundering and operating an unlicensed money transmitting business.

The investigation unfolded after authorities with Homeland Security Investigations in Minneapolis went in search of a sex trafficking case in the Twin Cities in 2014, and discovered that it was part of an international ring. Former Minnesota U.S. Attorney Andy Luger had made sex trafficking a priority and traveled to Thailand, as part of the research. Luger was one of the U.S. attorneys forced to resign in March, but the prosecutors in the office have worked on this case, treating it as they would an organized crime network.

According to the indictment, the sex-trade ring started in 2009. Poor women, who spoke little English were brought from Bangkok to several AMERICAN cities, including Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Washington, Houston and Dallas, the indictment claims. Once in the U.S., the women were forced to have sex in different houses of prostitution” including hotels, massage parlors and apartments.

“The victims were isolated. They tend to not have the ability to choose who they have sex with, sex transactions which she would go or when they have sex,” the indictment said. The organization threatened to harm the woman families in Thailand as they escaped.

The women were often encouraged to breast implants, and the cost of the operation was added to their debt. They were forced to run most of the money that they earned, as well as pay for rent, food and personal items, making it almost impossible to repay the debt.

Those who are in charge house bosses in Los Angeles, Chicago, Dallas, and Austin, Texas. They allegedly ran the day-to-day operations, including advertising, scheduling of sex buyers, and to ensure that a portion of the cash payment made by the victims, which was forwarded to dealers to pay in the bondage of debt.

The women were also forced to open bank accounts in the united states in which the organization controlled and used to assist in the laundering of money from the forced prostitution. The organization has also recruited people for large sums of money to Thailand or hidden cash in the items sent to Thailand, such as clothing and dolls. Cash was also sent to Thailand through international transfers, and hawala-systems on the basis of the indictment said.

At various times, the organization operated at least seven prostitution houses in the Minneapolis area, and more than a dozen victims of trafficking in human beings by means of Minnesota, the indictment said. The leaders of the ring is located in Bangkok, Thailand — which are identified in the indictment as An Individual, and the Individual B — to open and operate the Minnesota prostitution houses.

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