A U.S. District Court judge in St. Paul has sentenced the latest defendant in an international sex trafficking operation.
Michael Morris, 66, was sentenced on Monday to 208 months in prison for his role in a sex trafficking operation responsible for coercing hundreds of Thai women into prostitution. Morris and four other defendants were convicted after a six-week trial in late 2018. So far, a total of 29 defendants have been sentenced in relation to the operation.
According to evidence presented in trial, the operation coerced women in Bangkok, Thailand to come to the U.S. to engage in commercial sex under the false promise of a better life and money for their families
Victims were trafficked to cities including Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Seattle and Austin.
Victims were sent to houses of prostitution, including three that Morris ran in southern California. At the houses, victims were isolated from the world and forced to have sex with strangers.
The operation also engaged in visa fraud to transport victims to the U.S. and concealed tens of millions in illegal profits through money laundering.
A five year, multi-agency investigation, including help from the St. Paul Police Department, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension’s Minnesota Human Trafficking Investigators Task Force and the Anoka County Sheriff’s Office, uncovered the operation.
“Sex trafficking continues to be a repugnant local, national, and international crime that preys on vulnerable populations,” said United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald in a statement. “This case demonstrates the dedication and relentlessness of law enforcement across multiple jurisdictions to bring those who commit these crimes to justice.”