MINNEAPOLIS, MN – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar released the following statement today on the indictment of an international sex trafficking organization that stretched from Thailand to Minnesota. Yesterday, seventeen members of the organization were charged with transporting hundreds of female sex slaves from Thailand since at least 2009 and trafficking them throughout various cities in the U.S., including Minneapolis. The women were lured from Thailand with promises of a better life in the U.S.

“The victims of this sex trafficking ring were cruelly deceived, exploited, and deprived of their rights simply for hoping for a better life, and they deserve to see justice delivered," Klobuchar said. “U.S. Attorney Andy Luger and federal and local law enforcement officials proved this: To combat sex trafficking, we need all hands on deck. Let's keep working together to bring perpetrators to justice and get victims support."

Klobuchar is a national leader in the fight to combat human trafficking. Her bipartisan legislation, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act, was signed into law last May. The legislation was modeled after Minnesota’s “Safe Harbor” law, which gives incentives for all states to have a safe harbor provision to help ensure minors who are sold for sex aren’t prosecuted as defendants, but are instead treated as victims. When a state passes a safe harbor law, it means that kids sold for sex should be steered towards child protection services, rather than being arrested, charged, or convicted under a state’s criminal laws. In addition to law enforcement provisions, the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act helps victims rebuild their lives by using fines and penalties against perpetrators to improve the availability of victim services. In March, Klobuchar and Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) introduced the Stop Trafficking on Planes (STOP) Act that would require training for certain airline industry employees to recognize and report suspected human trafficking to law enforcement. A provision based on this legislation was signed into law in July as part of the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Reauthorization Act of 2016.