Authorities set to cooperate with US police on Thais forced into prostitution
THAI authorities are waiting for a US request for cooperation to further investigate alleged human trafficking of Thai women for prostitution in several American cities following the latest arrest of 20 suspects who are being prosecuted in US federal courts.
The office of Minnesota’s attorney-general said on Thursday that US authorities would prosecute a total of 21 Thai and American suspects, including one who is still at large, for their roles in a human trafficking network luring Thai women to the US to work as prostitutes.
The Thai consulate’s office in Chicago said it was also working with American counterparts to help Thai victims and suspects now in US custody.
Hundreds of women
However, Pol Colonel Krissana Pattanacharern, the deputy spokesman for Royal Thai Police, said US authorities had not yet contacted Thai officials for cooperation on the human trafficking-for-prostitution case in which hundreds of Thai women were believed to be misled by the suspects to go to the US for legal work but were forced to be prostitutes.
Krissana said the crime took place in the US so Thai authorities could not interfere, but officials were ready to cooperate with US officials.
In the meantime, the Thai Foreign Affairs Ministry was responsible for helping Thai victims and suspects, he said, adding that national police chief Pol General Chaktip Chaichinda had already instructed police to step up surveillance of domestic prostitution networks that could be involved in the trafficking of Thai women to the US.
The Chicago Sun Times earlier reported online that customers of a Thai prostitution ring in that city had become key players in the nationwide US operation in which the culprits rented out apartments for the women, shuttling them from airports and even entering them into sham marriages with brothel bosses so the woman could work legally.
“This is a unique twist I haven’t really seen before,” Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart was quoted as saying.
A federal indictment unsealed last Thursday charged 21 people across the country — including six in the Chicago area — with being involved in sex |trafficking. A related indictment in October charged 17 others.
The Cook County Sheriff’s Office worked with the US Homeland Security Investigations agents to shut down brothels employing Thai women in the Chicago area and arrested six people authorities identified as participants.