The traffickers painted a rosy picture of the United States when they recruited the women, according to the indictment.But the women were forced to pay leaders of the ring for debts supposedly associated with their travel and housing — making them sex slaves, the indictment says. Many of them were required to undergo cosmetic enhancements such as breast enlargement before they traveled to the United States, officials said.SAINT PAUL – A superseding indictment unsealed earlier today in Saint Paul, Minn., charges twenty-one members of an international sex trafficking ring for their roles in the organization. Paul Division“This indictment outlines charges against twenty-one members of a multi-million dollar, modern day organized crime operation.The eight count superseding indictment outlines sex trafficking and money laundering offenses stemming from a criminal enterprise that, through the use of overwhelming bondage debt, force, threats of force, fraud, and coercion, trafficked women from Thailand to cities across the United States. Twenty of the twenty-one charged defendants were arrested yesterday at various locations in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Austin, Houston, and Chicago. During the coordinated takedown, law enforcement seized hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, cell phones and condoms as well as multiple weapons. This is a highly complex case that required years of hard work, steadfast determination and dedication to bring these defendants to justice and provide hope to the hundreds of victims,” said Acting United States Attorney Gregory Brooker.Today’s indictment is a reminder that IRS Criminal Investigation is committed to following the money trail across the globe.”According to the superseding indictment, which was returned under seal on May 16, 2017, from January 2009 through May 2017, the sophisticated criminal organization trafficked hundreds of women from Bangkok, Thailand, to various cities across the United States, including Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, and Austin.
Police raided dozens of brothels in several major cities in search of underage and illegal workers last month, but only one was shut down.
The group’s ringleaders, who are still in Thailand, personally scouted some of the Minnesota locations, through which at least a dozen victims were trafficked, prosecutors said.
Announcing the charges at a news conference in Minneapolis, Acting U. Attorney Greg Brooker described the conspiracy as “an elaborate web of criminal activity where the members were making tens of millions of dollars” by exploiting vulnerable women, often from impoverished backgrounds and who spoke little to no English.
Those charged include: Matthew Mintz, 25, Wilaiwan Phimkhalee, 38, Kanyarat Chaiwirat, 50, and Thoucharin Ruttanamongkongul, 34, all of Chicago; Mohit Tandon, 37, of Burr Ridge; and Richard Alexander, 52, of De Kalb.
The new indictment, unsealed in Minnesota, says sex traffickers in Thailand arranged for hundreds of Thai women to travel from Bangkok to Chicago, Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Dallas, Atlanta and other cities to engage in prostitution.