A Thai citizen who authorities say played a key role in orchestrating an international sex trafficking ring appeared before a federal magistrate judge in Minnesota this week on a new 10-count indictment.

Sumalee Intarathong, 59, served as "boss/trafficker" in a criminal organization that sent hundreds of women from Bangkok to prostitution houses in the United States and compelled them to perform sex acts for money, according to federal prosecutors.

Intarathong and other boss/traffickers "owned" the women, and forced them to pay off a "bondage debt" through prostitution of between $40,000 and $60,000. Intarathong was extradited from Belgium to the United States to face the charges.

The sophisticated trafficking ring included widespread visa fraud to facilitate international travel and gathering personal details about the victims' families in Thailand to threaten them into compliance, according to court documents. The organization dealt primarily in cash and moved tens of millions of dollars in illegal profits from the U.S. back to Thailand and elsewhere, according to prosecutors.

The charges include sex trafficking by force and conspiracies to commit money laundering, visa fraud, forced labor and more. Federal Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright ordered Intarathong to remain in custody as the court proceedings move forward.

Thirty-six people have been convicted in connection with the international trafficking ring, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office in Minnesota.

Andy Mannix • 612-673-4036