ST. PAUL, Minn. (CBSDFW.COM/AP) — Two Texans were among five men convicted Wednesday on sex trafficking charges tied to an alleged Thai Sex trafficking ring, prosecutors said.
The men sold Thai women for sex in the U.S., according to prosecutors.
A federal jury in Minnesota found all five guilty of conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and other charges, the Star Tribune reported . Jurors returned their verdict just a day after receiving the case.
The defendants were Pawinee Unpradit, 46, of Dallas; Waralee Wanless, 39, of the Colony, Saowapha Thinram, 44, of Hutto, Texas, Michael Morris, 65, of Seal Beach, California and Thoucharin Ruttanamongkongul, 35, of Chicago.
Prosecutors alleged during the six-week trial that the defendants, along with 34 co-conspirators, ran a sex trafficking operation that lasted more than a decade and crossed borders.
Government attorneys called it a case of “modern day sex slavery,” with Thai women forced to have sex with multiple men daily to pay off “bondage debts” owed to traffickers for help coming to the U.S. Some victims testified during the trial.
Prosecutors said the victims were misled about how much they owed. The women were threatened if they tried to leave the business, prosecutors alleged.
Defense attorneys for all five contended the women were willful participants.
Paul Engh, an attorney for Thinram, predicted all five defendants will appeal.