MINNEAPOLIS, Oct. 6 (UPI) -- A federal indictment charges 17 people with transporting hundreds of Thai women to the United States as part of an international sex trafficking ring.
The indictment, unsealed this week, accuses 12 Thai nationals and five Americans with operating a scheme dating back to 2009 that illegally acquired visas for Thai women and forced them into prostitution in cities across the country.
The Department of Justice said the cities include Atlanta, Chicago, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, and Minneapolis.
Authorities said four other defendants remain at large.
"Human trafficking is a degrading crime that undermines our nation's most basic promises of liberty and security," said Attorney General Lynch.
The indictments are the result of multiple federal agencies working together as well as local law enforcement.
"As this operation clearly shows, human trafficking -- in this case the trafficking of vulnerable Thai women for sex -- knows no boundaries," said Sgt. Sean Johnson, of the Saint Paul, Minn., Police Department Human Trafficking Unit.