According to the eight-count indictment, the operation was intricate for its organization. Among those indicted were the people owed the bondage debts of the women brought from Bangkok.
The young women, many of them from poor families in Thailand, were promised trips to the United States. They would also receive visas. Life in cities like Chicago would be rosy, they were told, and they would be able to help support their families back home.
But the promises, the federal authorities say, came with an enormous toll: The women were required to work as prostitutes in cities all over this country until they could pay off exorbitant “bondage debts,” set as high as $60,000, to the very people who had promised them better lives.
Law enforcement authorities on Thursday announced federal sex-trafficking conspiracy charges against 21 people, part of what they described as one of the most elaborate and extensive sex-trafficking operations they had seen. The operation had gone on for at least eight years, netted tens of millions of dollars, and involved hundreds of women who were shuttled among American cities, sometimes every few weeks, the officials said.
“The women did not have freedom of movement and, until they paid off their bondage debts, were modern-day sex slaves,” an indictment unsealed on Thursday in Federal District Court in Minnesota said, laying out