December 13, 2018

USA: Five People Convicted In Minnesota For Their Connection With Brutally Efficient International Sex Trafficking Ring.

The Washington Examiner
by Diana Stancy Correll
Thursday December 13, 2018

Five people have been convicted by a federal jury in St. Paul, Minn., for involvement in an international sex trafficking ring, the Justice Department announced Thursday.

“The defendants convicted yesterday participated in a massive yet brutally efficient criminal enterprise that trafficked hundreds of vulnerable Thai women for sexual exploitation and used sophisticated money laundering techniques to conceal and sustain itself,” Assistant Attorney General Brian Benczkowski of the Justice Department’s criminal division said in a statement.

According to information proven at a six-week trial, the sex trafficking organization brought women from Bangkok, Thailand — who were often from devastatingly poor backgrounds and deceived into thinking they would have a better life in the U.S. — to cities including Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, and Houston.

Once at the prostitution houses, the women were not permitted to leave unless a member of the organization was with them. The women were ordered to have sex with strangers for up to 12 hours per day, with as many as 10 different men. 😦

Traffickers also participated in money laundering and visa fraud to hide their profits, and to help victims obtain counterfeit visas. The information traffickers received about the victims and their families was then used to intimidate victims from leaving the organization.

Those convicted Wednesday were Michael Morris, 65, of Seal Beach, Calif.; Pawinee Unpradit, 46, of Dallas, Texas; Saowapha Thinram, 44, of Hutto, Texas; Thoucharin Ruttanamongkongul, 35, of Chicago, Ill.; and Waralee Wanless, 39, of The Colony, Texas.

They were convicted on charges including conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; sex trafficking by use of force, fraud, and coercion; and conspiracy to engage in money laundering, among others.

The five individuals were not the first to be convicted in connection with the sex trafficking organization. Thirty-one individuals were also convicted in relation to the sex trafficking group.

“The cruel and illegal actions of the defendants tear at the fabric of our community, causing trauma, fear and anguish both seen and unseen,” said St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell. “Thankfully, due to the exceptional work of many law enforcement agencies and their representatives, the guilty will be held accountable for their actions and survivors will get help, support and justice.”

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