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United States v. Wanless

United States District Court, D. Minnesota

September 29, 2017

United States of America, Plaintiff,
v.
Waralee Wanless, a/k/a Wan, a/k/a Warlee Duarte, a/k/a Warlee Alcaraz, Defendant.

          ORDER AND MEMORANDUM

          DONOVAN W. FRANK UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE

         This matter is before the Court pursuant to Defendant Waralee Wanless's Motion for Reconsideration of Detention Order. (Doc. No. 326.) On August 29, 2017, the United States of America (the “Government”) filed a Response in Opposition to Motion to Reconsider Detention Order. (Doc. No. 346.)

         On September 28, 2017, a detention hearing was held before the Court. At the hearing, the Court took the matter under advisement.

         ORDER

         1. Defendant Waralee Wanless's Motion for Reconsideration of Detention Order (Doc. No. [326]) is respectfully DENIED.

         MEMORANDUM

         Defendant Waralee Wanless was indicted as a member of an international sex-trafficking and money-laundering organization. The Second Superseding Indictment (“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 moved to the United States in 2008 from Thailand and settled in the Dallas area. Defendant is a legal permanent resident. Defendant still has many ties to Thailand: Her father, siblings, and adult child live there. Since coming to the United States, Defendant has allegedly held a number of different jobs, including importing coffee from Thailand, a dry cleaner, and most recently as an Uber and Lyft driver. Defendant admits that she has traveled to Thailand as recently as October 2016, and that she and her now-husband abruptly canceled their wedding there in March 2017, opting to marry in the United States in February 2017.

         Defendant is alleged to be one of the traffickers and of the one house bosses for the sex-trafficking organization. The Indictment contains allegations that Thailand-based traffickers would transport victims from Thailand to the United States. Traffickers would then hold a significant bondage debt over the victims. Traffickers in the United States, like Defendant, would then buy the bondage debt.

         Defendant is also an accused house boss. 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. In as early as 2013, law enforcement observed activities and received reports of activity at Defendant's apartment consistent with running an active house of prostitution.

         On May 25, 2017, the Honorable Paul D. Stickney in the District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Dallas Division, ordered Defendant detained pending trial. Defendant now moves this Court to reconsider the Magistrate Judge's decision. 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, 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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