Three Orange Countians are among 38 people charged in a federal indictment targeting an alleged sex-trafficking ring that brought hundreds of women from Thailand to the U.S., where they were forced to be "modern day sex slaves."
The indictment unsealed Thursday also accuses members of then ring with concealing millions of dollars in earnings.
Orange Countians named in the indictment are:
- Michael Morris, 63, of Seal Beach, who is charged with conspiracy to commit sex trafficking; sex trafficking by use of force, fraud, and coercion; conspiracy to commit transportation to engage in prostitution; conspiracy to engage in money laundering; and conspiracy to use a communication facility to promote prostitution.
- Pornthep Sukprasert, 40, of Huntington Beach, who faces counts of conspiracy to engage in money laundering and unlicensed money transmitting business.
- Mulchulee Chalermsakulrat, 39, of Huntington Beach, charged with conspiracy to engage in money laundering.
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Considered one of the largest sex-trafficking prosecutions in the U.S., the case involves an alleged operation that lured Thai women to the U.S. with promises of a better life, only to have them forced to work as prostitutes to pay off mammoth bondage debts, Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory Brooker told the Associated Press.
Women were rotated through several prostitution houses around the U.S., forced to work long hours, and “forced to have sex with strangers, even if the men were abusive,” Brooker says.
Seventeen of the 38 people named in the indictment were charged in October with counts ranging from conspiracy to commit sex trafficking to sex trafficking by use of force or threats. The latest indictment goes after the money, estimated to be in the tens of millions of dollars.
The international ring is alleged to have operated in the Twin Cities of Minnesota, Los Angeles, Chicago, Las Vegas, Phoenix, Minneapolis, Washington, Houston and Dallas. The rings two leaders, who are believed to have been based in Bangkok, remain are at-large.