United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald today announced the extradition and indictment of SUMALEE INTARATHONG, 59, for her role in an international Thai sex trafficking organization. The 10-count superseding indictment charges INTARATHONG with conspiracy, human trafficking violations, and visa fraud. Thirty-six co-defendants have been charged and convicted for their roles in the conspiracy. On February 16, 2021, INTARATHONG made her initial appearance before Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright and was ordered to remain in detention pending further proceedings.
According to allegations in the superseding indictment and documents filed in court, the criminal organization compelled hundreds of women from Bangkok, Thailand, to engage in commercial sex acts in various cities across the United States. Before her arrest in Belgium on August 5, 2016, INTARATHONG served as a boss/trafficker for the organization. Each trafficked victim was “owned” by INTARATHONG or another boss/trafficker, until the victim could repay an exorbitant “bondage debt” of between $40,000 and $60,000. INTARATHONG and other co-conspirators arranged for victims to travel from Thailand to the United States and placed the victims in a house of prostitution somewhere in the United States.
According to allegations in the superseding indictment and documents filed in court, INTARATHONG and other co-conspirators in the organization engaged in widespread visa fraud to facilitate the international transportation of the victims. Members of the criminal organization assisted the victims in obtaining fraudulent visas and travel documents. As a part of obtaining visa documents, members of the criminal conspiracy gathered personal information from the victims, including the location of the victims’ families in Thailand. This information was later used to threaten victims who became non-compliant or tried to flee the organization in the United States.
According to allegations in the superseding indictment and documents filed in court, the organization dealt primarily in cash and engaged in rampant and sophisticated money laundering in order to promote and conceal illegal profits. Throughout the course of the conspiracy the criminal organization has moved tens of millions of dollars in illegal proceeds from the United States to Thailand and elsewhere.
This case is the result of an investigation conducted by Homeland Security Investigations, Criminal Investigation Division of the IRS, Diplomatic Security Service, St. Paul Police Department, Anoka County Sheriff’s Office and Cook County (Illinois) Sheriff’s Office, with the support of the International Organized Crime Intelligence and Operations Center (IOC-2). The Justice Department’s Office of International Affairs provided critical assistance in securing the defendant’s extradition from Belgium.
Assistant U.S. Attorneys Melinda Williams and Laura Provinzino are prosecuting the case with the assistance of the DOJ Civil Rights Division’s Human Trafficking Prosecution Unit and the Money Laundering and Asset Recovery Section.
The charges contained in the superseding indictment are merely accusations, and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.
SUMALEE INTARATHONG, 59
Citizen of Thailand
- Conspiracy to commit sex trafficking, 1 count
- Sex trafficking by use of force, fraud, and coercion, 1 count
- Conspiracy to commit forced labor, 1 count
- Conspiracy to commit transportation to engage in prostitution, 1 count
- Transportation to engage in prostitution, 1 count
- Conspiracy to engage in money laundering, 1 count
- Conspiracy to use a communication facility to promote prostitution, 1 count
- Conspiracy to commit visa fraud, 1 count
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