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United States v. Win

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

June 29, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Bhunna Win, a/k/a Bhunna Siriangkhunwanish Defendant.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM

          DONOVAN W. FRANK United States District Judge

         This matter is before the Court on the Government's request for de novo review of Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel's Order Setting Conditions of Release filed on June 26, 2017, Doc. No 222. (Doc. Nos. 208 & 229.) After the Magistrate Judge ordered Defendant released, the Court granted the Government's request to stay the release pending this Court's expedited review. (Doc. No. 209.) The Government argues that Defendant should not be released because there is no set of conditions that would reasonably assure Defendant's appearance at trial or that Defendant will not abide by the conditions of release. Defendant has not filed an opposition to the Government's motion, but the Court has reviewed Defendant's arguments in support of release that were made to the Magistrate Judge.

         Based upon the presentations of counsel, the Court having reviewed the contents of the file in this matter, including the transcript from the June 26, 2017 hearing, the Magistrate Judge's Order (Doc. No. 222), the Pretrial Services Report, and the Court being otherwise duly advised in the premises, the Court hereby enters the following:

         ORDER

         1. The Government's Motion for Emergency Stay and for Review and Revocation of Release Order (Doc. No. [208]) is DENIED.

         2. Magistrate Judge Franklin L. Noel's June 26, 2017 Order Setting Conditions of Release (Doc. No. [222]) is AFFIRMED.

         MEMORANDUM

         Defendant Bhunna Win is one of the twenty-one individuals indicted as part of an international sex-trafficking and money-laundering organization. Win has been charged with Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1956(h). If convicted of this offense, then under the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines, Defendant faces an advisory sentence of between 235 and 240 months in prison.

         Broadly, members of the organization operated in roles as traffickers, house bosses, and money launderers. Sometimes, members had overlapping roles, but oftentimes they filled discrete functions. Traffickers would recruit victims from Thailand and facilitate their transport to the United States. The traffickers held a bondage debt over the victims, which was typically between $40, 000 and $60, 000. Once victims were lured to the United States, they were forced to work long hours-often all day, every day-having sex with strangers to attempt to pay down their bondage debt. Victims typically did not have the ability to choose with whom they had sex, what sex transactions they would engage in, or when they would have sex. (Doc. No. 16 (“Indictment”) ¶ 4.)

         House bosses would run the day-to-day operations, including advertising victims for commercial sex acts, procuring and maintaining the houses of prostitution, scheduling sex buyers, and ensuring that a portion of the cash was routed back to pay down the victim's bondage debts. (Id. ¶ 5b.) In exchange, house bosses retained a significant portion of the cash that the victims received, typically 40%. (Id.) House bosses would also coordinate with traffickers and other house bosses to facilitate the victims' travel to other cities in the United States. (Id.)

         Money launderers were essential to the organization. The money launderers made their bank accounts available for deposits and then would coordinate withdrawals and transfers. According to the Indictment, the organization has laundered millions of dollars.

         Win has sought pretrial release. The Pretrial Services Report[1] recommended that she be detained because: (1) she has foreign ties-she has family and a home in Thailand; and (2) Defendant has uncertain employment. The Magistrate Judge, however, granted conditional release, and the Government appealed. The district court conducts a de novo review of release and detention orders. Pursuant to Rule 46(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and 18 U.S.C. § 3142, courts consider the following factors in assessing the continued detention of a defendant:

(a) The nature and circumstances of the offense charged . ...

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