Authorities crack down on sex trade ring

October 16, 2009 Investigators responding to an online ad discovered three women from Thailand at a motel in a Chicago suburb.

The ads on the web were pretty straight forward. If you are looking for sex, it's easy to find, and the alleged prostitutes are pretty easy for law enforcement to find as well. When undercover Cook County sheriff's officers arranged to meet a girl at this hotel near O'Hare, they did not expect to find a young girl from Thailand. She was one of three girls being held there basically as prisoners of a human trafficking ring.

"Their passports are gone. They don't speak our language. Their only connection is a woman they never met on a phone somewhere saying 'you better perform otherwise bad things are going to happen to you. We know where your family is,'" said Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart.

The women have been in this country fewer than three weeks, and already they've been shuttled to New York, San Francisco, Dallas and Chicago for prostitution. A limo service takes them from the airport to the hotel. The threats keep them there. The sheriff says he believes this is a major international operation, but catching the operators is tricky.

"We're going to get these people. It's just going to take a while because of all the firewalls set up by the internet and the like. It's just difficult," Dart said.

The sheriff says the women are victims. They face no charges. They are staying at the Thai Consulate while they make arrangements to send them back home to their country.

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