21 Human Traffickers have been charged in an international sex trafficking ring, which brings the total number of people indicted in this case to 38. As recently reported by CNN, the traffickers mostly forced Thailand women to travel to the United States, so as to work as sex slaves. The traffickers were 10 Thai nationals and 11 U.S citizens. Their arrests occurred in various locations countrywide such as Los Angeles, San Diego, Austin, Houston Dallas, and Chicago. One defendant still remains at large.

How the traffickers conducted the trade

Trafficking of the Thai women began in 2009. Most women were from impoverished backgrounds and spoke little or no English. The traffickers lured them with promises of a steady income and a better life in the US. Once in the country, the women were denied freedom until they paid a bondage debt as high as $60,000 per woman. Most were unable to pay their debt as they were required to cater for their needs while in the U.S. They were forced to engage in sex with strangers at any time of the day with up to 10 men or more.

They were often threatened not to escape. They were also forced to undergo forced cosmetic surgery so as to make their bodies more appealing to clients. The traffickers added the costs of the surgeries such as breast implants to their bondage debt. The women only received 40% of the payment received from customers while the rest would go to traffickers and owners of brothels.

A directing attorney working with the Thai Community Development Centre in Los Angeles said that one of the victims left her family in Thailand for a massage job in the US.

Her passport was taken away from her upon arriving and told she would have to pay $35,000 debt. She later escaped after realizing she was brought to the U.S for commercial sex when her trafficker took her to buy lingerie. The leaders of this ring are believed to be based in Thailand and are still at large.

Sex trafficking in the United States

The Commercial Sex Act of 1951 of the US makes it illegal to entice, recruit, obtain, provide, move or accommodate a prostitute or to benefit from commercial sex activities.

The act is currently applicable in 31 states for forced victims. Sex trafficking in the U.S is present in Asian massage parlors, online escort sites, Mexican cantina bars, truck stops, street-based pimp-controlled prostitution and residential brothels. Organizations that control the trade are believed to originate from Mexico, Eastern Europe, and Asia. Research by the University of California found that about 46% of people in slavery in the U.S engage in forced prostitution. Prostitution is only legal in the U.S in eight rural counties within Nevada.

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