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FEDERAL INDICTMENTS ANNOUNCED IN THAI PROSTITUTION RING CASE

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Thursday, May 25, 2017The federal indictment of 21 people involved in the leadership of a vast, nationwide, Thai sex trafficking organization was unsealed today at a federal courthouse in Minneapolis, Sheriff Thomas J. Dart announced today.

After receiving multiple tips starting in August 2015, the Cook County Sheriff’s Office opened up an investigation of the trafficking organization. As the investigation grew, partnerships with HSI Chicago’s Human Trafficking Unit were formed and connections to other cases and investigations were discovered in Minnesota and elsewhere. Eventually it was determined that the operation was present in 11 states. The federal indictment announced today is the result of multiple-agency partnerships.

The investigation revealed the criminal organization had been operating as an international Thai sex trafficking ring since at least 2009, involving hundreds of victims and millions of dollars in money that was laundered through various methods. Women were trafficked from Thailand to multiple cities around the United States, often with the promise of a better life and steady income, only to spend their days being prostituted to strangers. Many of these women were controlled by a “bondage debt,” at times in excess of $60,000.

On Wednesday, May 25, the Cook County Sheriff’s Police Special Operations unit worked with local federal law enforcement officials to facilitate the arrest of six members of the organization in the Chicagoland area. The local members currently in federal custody include:

All were charged with one count of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, one count of conspiracy to commit transportation to engage in prostitution, one count of conspiracy to engage in money laundering and one count of conspiracy to use a communication facility to promote prostitution.

Simultaneous takedown operations also occurred yesterday in Austin, Dallas, Houston, Los Angeles and San Diego and resulted in the capture and arrest of 20 of the 21 members named in the indictment, with one still at large.

Sheriff Dart reminds the public that the defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty by the government in a court of law.

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