Cook County's Role in Dismantling an Intl Sex Trafficking Ring

With public resources and interagency coordination, Cook County helped take down a sex trafficking ring holding Thai victims in the Chicago area.

The Cook County Sheriff’s Police Special Operations arrested six people who were allegedly involved with an international sex trafficking ring of Thai women under federal investigation, according to Burr Ridge Patch.

Chicago area individuals are accused of various sex trafficking charges. The sheriff's office described the individuals as traffickers, facilitators and house bosses for an organized ring of an active prostitution organization holding Thai women against their will in the Chicago region.

Following the Money

There were a total 21 people indicted this week, according to the Department of Justice's prepared statement. Other arrests related to the investigation were also made in Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas, Austin and Houston.

Associated Press indicated there have been 38 indicted so far in the three-year investigation that began in the Twin Cities in 2014.

Homeland Security Investigations in Minneapolis said that following the financial trail was key.

IRS Criminal Investigation agents target profit sources of human traffickers, according to Shea Jones, the special agent in charge with the IRS unit's St. Paul field office.

As all financial transactions leave a trail, IRS Criminal Investigation special agents used their accounting expertise to analyze the complex financial transactions made by these criminals," he said.

The IRS investigated traffickers holding the Thai victims' bondage debts, the prostitution house bosses where the women are held, money launderers and facilitators that transported the Thai women.

Massive Interagency Cooperation & Resources

Cook County played a large part in the dismantling the international sex trafficking ring that brought hundreds of Thai victims to be held as sex slaves in the Chicago metro region.

"The complexities of this organization represent the lengths to which criminals will go to profit off of human beings. This is an important reminder that sex trafficking and the associated buying, are not victimless crimes -- this organization preyed and profited on vulnerable women," said Cook County Sheriff Thomas Dart, describing his agency's efforts as comprehensive.

Patch reported that Dart's office joined the federal investigation in  2015, which resulted in this week's take down of the sex trafficking ring with coordinated arrests, recovery of victims in active prostitution houses and "seizure of hundreds of thousands of dollars and numerous weapons."

With the cooperation and coordination of our law enforcement partners and the various resources they all bring to bear, we were able to significantly disrupt and dismantle this criminal organization from all angles," said Acting U.S. Attorney Gregory G. Brooker of the District of Minnesota.

St. Paul Police Chief Todd Axtell said dismantling the criminal organization running this sex trafficking ring sends a strong message:

"Your operations are not welcome here. If you engage in human trafficking, we will combine the public’s resources to find you, arrest you and ensure that you are not to be allowed to retain your ill-gotten financial gains.”

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