Prostitution Case Leads to Sex-Trafficking Investigation

As police continue to build their case, new details about a Northeast Wisconsin prostitution ring reveal the inner workings of the operation and how it might be linked to international sex trafficking.

“I believe some of the people in the broader circle have actually been caught previous to this and deported and have come back into the country,” Captain Mike Jobe of the Outagamie County Sheriff’s Department said.

Investigators say the sex-for-cash business uncovered in the Fox Valley could be part of an international sex-trafficking operation.

Six people face various prostitution-related charges, and three of them are accused of running illegal massage parlors in Ashwaubenon, Appleton, and the Town of Buchanan.

Investigators say employees of the massage parlors may have been forced to work there — engaging in what’s called “debt bondage.”

According to the criminal complaint, debt bondage is when “an individual is forced to work for little or no money in order to pay off a monetary debt… under the threat of the ’employer’ reporting the ’employee’ to immigration authorities, violence, or even death.”

Local and federal investigators are still sorting out the case, trying to provide evidence that debt bondage exists in this case.

“One of the things that makes that difficult sometimes is that persons who are directly involved in that refuse to say anything to anyone,” Captain Jobe said.

Federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agents are also investigating.

“Rooting out human trafficking is a priority for ICE, and whenever we conduct investigations we always are on the look out for signs of victims,” ICE spokesman Tim Counts said.

Because it’s an ongoing investigation, Counts could not confirm trafficking was a part of this case but did say two of the six people arrested were in the country illegally and could face deportation.


Published in: on December 18, 2009 at 8:28 am  Leave a Comment  
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