Woman from Thailand pleads guilty to charges related to international sex trafficking conspiracy

A woman pleaded guilty to helping run an international Thai sex trafficking organization and laundering millions of dollars in funds.

The case was prosecuted by the office of U.S. Attorney for Minnesota Andrew Luger.

Sumalee Intarathong, 61, served as a “boss” or trafficker for the organization and compelled hundreds of women from Bangkok, Thailand, to engage in commercial sex acts in various cities across the United States, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

She pleaded guilty on Tuesday to conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and conspiracy to commit money laundering.

“Today’s guilty plea marks the final conviction in a years-long international sex trafficking prosecution resulting in 37 convictions,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew M. Luger. “Ms. Intarathong, worked directly with others at the highest levels in the organization to victimize hundreds of vulnerable women for her own financial gain.”

Intarathong was arrested in Belgium on Aug. 5, 2016 and was later extradited to the United States in February 2021.

Court documents state that her trafficking victims were made to repay “bondage debts” of $40,000 to $60,000. The trafficking organization “owned” the victims until the debts were paid. Intarathong and her co-conspirators then arranged for victims to travel from Thailand to the United States and placed them in houses of prostitution in several different cities.

The news release states that widespread visa fraud was used to move the victims across national borders with bogus travel documents.

Intarathong and her co-conspirators also made threats to the victims’ families if they became non-compliant or tried to flee, according to court documents.

The organization also ran a “sophisticated money laundering” operation that moved tens of millions of dollars from the United States to Thailand and elsewhere, according to the news release.

Intarathong’s sentencing date has not yet been scheduled.