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St Paul (KROC AM News) - A California man who was convicted of being involved in a huge sex trafficking operation that included Minneapolis was sentenced Monday to a lengthy prison term.

The case against 66-year-old Michael Morris was prosecuted in St. Paul. He and four others were convicted in 2018.

The Minnesota office of US Attorney Erica H. MacDonald prosecuted the case. She says the defendants operated a “massive international sex trafficking organization that was responsible for coercing hundreds of Thai women to engage in commercial sex acts across the United States.” She says 31 defendants pleaded guilty prior to the 2018 trial. To date, 29 defendants have been sentenced.

“Sex trafficking continues to be a repugnant local, national, and international crime that preys on vulnerable populations,” said United States Attorney Erica H. MacDonald. “This case demonstrates the dedication and relentlessness of law enforcement across multiple jurisdictions to bring those who commit these crimes to justice.”

As proven at trial, the sex trafficking organization coerced hundreds of women from Thailand, to engage in commercial sex acts in various cities across the United States, including Minneapolis, Los Angeles, Chicago, Atlanta, Phoenix, Washington, D.C., Las Vegas, Houston, Dallas, Seattle, and Austin. The trafficking victims were forced to participate in the criminal scheme through misleading promises of a better life in the United States and the ability to provide money to their families in Thailand. Once in the United States, the victims were sent to houses of prostitution, including the three that Morris ran in southern California, where they were forced to have sex with strangers – every day –having sex with up to ten men a day. The victims were isolated from the outside world, and their families in Thailand were threatened.

As proven at trial, the organization also engaged in widespread visa fraud to facilitate the international transportation of the victims and engaged in rampant and sophisticated money laundering in order to promote and conceal illegal profits. During the extensive investigation, law enforcement traced tens of millions of dollars to the organization.

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