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United States v. Thinram

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 26, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Saowapha Thinram, a/k/a Nancy, a/k/a Kung, Defendant.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant Saowapha Thinram's (“Defendant”) Appeal from an Order for Detention Filed in Texas. (Doc. No. 303.) On August 28, 2017, the United States of America (“the Government”) filed a Response in Opposition to Motion to Reconsider Detention Order. (Doc. No. 345.)

         On September 20, 2017, a detention hearing was held before the undersigned. At the hearing, the Court took the matter under advisement.

         ORDER

         1. Defendant Saowapha Thinram's Appeal from an Order for Detention Filed in Texas (Doc. No. [303]) is respectfully DENIED.

         MEMORANDUM

         The Second Superseding Indictment before the Court charges Defendant with Conspiracy to Commit Sex Trafficking, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 1594 (Count 1); Conspiracy to Commit Transportation to Engage in Prostitution, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Count 3); Conspiracy to Engage in Money Laundering, 18 U.S.C. § 1956 (Count 4); and Conspiracy to Use a Communication Facility to Promote Prostitution, 18 U.S.C. § 371 (Count 5). (Doc. No. 314.)

         Defendant is alleged to be one of the house bosses for the sex-trafficking organization, along with her husband, Co-Defendant Gregory Allen Kimmy (“Kimmy”). House bosses are alleged to have 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 victims' bondage debts. (Indictment ¶ 5(b).) In exchange, house bosses retained a significant portion of the cash that the victims receive, typically forty percent. (Id.) House bosses would also coordinate with traffickers and other house bosses to facilitate the victims' travel to other cities in the United States. 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. Defendant and her husband are lessors of a house where law enforcement observed activity consistent with an active house of prostitution.

         According to the search warrant affidavit, Special Agent Tonya Price interviewed victim prostitutes identified as W-2, W-41, and W-42. W-2 identified Defendant as “Nancy” and stated that Defendant ran a “working” house of prostitution in Austin, Texas, and charged $60 per commercial sex act as the “house fee.” W-2 also stated that Defendant advertised W-2 and other Thai women online using ECCIE.net. Further, W-2 told Agent Price that Defendant would call W-2 to let her know when a commercial sex buyer was coming. W-2 also stated that Defendant took a photograph of her passport book.

         Special Agent Price also interviewed W-41 who stated that she had recently paid off her $40, 000 bondage debt, which took approximately six months to complete. She did not claim that that the debt was paid to either Defendant or Co-Defendant Kimmy. W-41 did state, however, that she was sent to various houses of prostitution in Kirkwood, Washington; Kansas City; Los Angles; and Houston and Austin, Texas. W-41 also stated that she paid Co-Defendant Kimmy and Defendant half of the money she earned from commercial sex acts.[1]

         On May 30, 2017, the Honorable Andrew W. Austin in the District Court for the Western District of Texas, Austin Division, held a detention hearing pursuant to the Government's motion to detain Defendant pending trial. The Magistrate Judge observed that Defendant has few ties to the United States: Defendant first came to the United States as a victim-prostitute in the same sex trafficking scheme implicated in this case. Consequently, when Defendant paid off her “debt” to gain her freedom, she remained in the United States. Defendant also has an 11-year-old son who resides in the Austin, Texas area with her and who is a lawful permanent resident. Due to the fact that both Defendant and her husband have been detained, Defendant's mother-in-law has been caring for Defendant's 11-year-old son and Kimmy's other three children.[2]

         The Magistrate Judge also observed that Defendant has many ties to Thailand: All of Defendant's siblings and her mother reside in Thailand, as does her 19-year-old son. Additionally, Defendant owns a residence in Thailand. Defendant, however, does not have a bank account in her name and, in the words of the Magistrate Judge, “relies entirely on her husband for access to money.” Defendant last traveled to Thailand in 2015 to visit her son, who was diagnosed with leukemia, and whose medical care she pays for. She and Kimmy also traveled to Thailand in 2014 for the same purpose.

         Pursuant to Rule 46(b) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure and 18 U.S.C. § 3142, the Court considered the following factors in assessing the continued detention of Defendant:

(1) the nature and circumstances of the offense charged, including whether the offense ...

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