Alleged traffickers charged with forcing Thai women to US for sex
May 26, 2017 14:23 5,319 Viewed
Chicago customers of a Thai prostitution ring became key players in the nationwide operation — renting out apartments for the women, shuttling them from airports and even entering into a sham marriage with a brothel boss in order for her to work legally in the US, Chicago Sun Times online reported on May 25.
Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart said, “This is a unique twist I haven’t really seen before.”
A federal indictment unsealed Thursday charged 21 people across the country — including six in the Chicago area — with being involved in sex trafficking. A related indictment in October charged 17 others, reported the online.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office worked with the U.S. Homeland Security Investigations agents to shut down Thai brothels in the Chicago area and arrest six people authorities identified as participants.
Mohit Tandon, 37, of Burr Ridge, is charged with being a “facilitator” in an international prostitution ring.
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 DeKalb, the online reported.
The new indictment 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.
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. Their debts ranged from $40,000 to $60,000.
Many of them were required to undergo cosmetic enhancements such as breast enlargement before they traveled to the United States, officials said.
Phimkhalee, Chaiwirat and Ruttanamongkongul allegedly acted as “mamasans,” running brothels in the Chicago area. Phimkhalee also is described in the indictment as being a sex trafficker.
Tandon, Alexander and Mintz are described in the indictment as “facilitators.”