Jan. 18 (UPI) -- Federal prosecutors have charged six people with running an Internet-based sex trafficking ring connected in the United States, Canada and Australia.
FBI agents in Oregon joined law enforcement agencies in more than a dozen cities internationally, officials said. The agency took control of websites like Supermatchescorts.com and hundreds of other domains the bureau said were used in the ring.
Five people were charged with conspiracy and use of interstate facilities to promote, manage, establish, carry on or facilitate a racketeering enterprise. In a second indictment, another person was charged with similar counts.
Prosecutors said in a statement the mastermind recruited women primarily from China to travel to the United States, Canada and Australia to engage in prostitution and other trafficking activities. Customers would use the website as a call center and women were dispatched to "dates" around the world. Authorities said the ring built a database with about 30,000 customers around the world.
"Vulnerable women looking for a new life in the U.S. instead find traffickers who cash in on their cultural isolation by profiting from the sale of sex services," FBI Special Agent In Charge Renn Cannon said.
"In many cases, these women lack the language skills and understanding of American civil rights to ask for help or assistance from law enforcement. For that reason, we need community members who suspect such illegal activity to come forward to help us," Cannon added.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported Friday the ring operated out of Australian cities like Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane. Those visiting the site Friday saw a message that it had been seized by the FBI.
Toronto Police took one suspect into custody this week, who will be extradited to the United States. Two others appeared in federal court Tuesday and one Wednesday. The whereabouts of two of the suspects are unknown.