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Sheriff’s police find possible international prostitution ring

October 23, 2009

Thai women were forced to sell sex, cops say
By Daarel Burnette II

Tribune reporter
www.chicagotribune.com/news/chi-human-trafficking-ringoct17,0,1013255.story

October 17, 2009

The Cook County sheriff’s police detained three women from Thailand on suspicion they had been coerced to engage in prostitution across the U.S. in the last three weeks as part of an international prostitution ring.

The women said operators of the ring confiscated their passports, demanded $60,000 for their return and then forced them into prostitution in San Francisco, New York, Texas and Chicago.

In an interview Friday, Sheriff Tom Dart said the women were victims and won’t be charged. They were turned over to Thai officials.

An undercover sheriff’s police officer posing as a john responded to a Web site ad offering “a super model, hot, sexy Asian bombshell.” Directed Thursday to a motel in Schiller Park, he was offered sex for $160 by one of the women and then discovered the other two nearby, Dart said.

The sheriff said it was unclear how the women were enticed to come to the U.S. They were told a limousine would be waiting for them outside a New York airport, he said.

The women spoke limited English. They had very little face-to-face interaction with the operators of the ring, knew them by first names only and couldn’t provide detailed descriptions of them. They had little value as witnesses, so it’s not necessary to keep them in the U.S., Dart said.

The sheriff said the investigation continues. His office has reached out to federal Immigrationofficials and police from the other cities in which the ring operated.

dburnette@tribune.com

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