[Stop-traffic] Us/News: Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling

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Subject: [Stop-traffic] Us/News: Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling
From: Melanie Orhant (morhant@igc.org)
Date: Thu Jul 20 2000 - 09:23:27 EDT


                          Man Pleads Guilty to Smuggling

APO 7/7/00 1:31 PM
The Associated Press.

    HOUSTON (AP) -- A man pleaded guilty Thursday to smuggling Thai women
into Texas and forcing them to work as prostitutes to pay off their
transportation debts.
    Phiet The Mai, 27, admitted participating for two years in an
international smuggling ring based in Bangkok, Thailand, that brought Thai
and Chinese nationals into the United States. Members of the group have
claimed they could smuggle as many as 100 Chinese immigrants per month.
    Mai pleaded guilty to charges that included conspiracy, falsifying
immigration papers, smuggling the women for the purpose of prostitution and
transporting illegal aliens. He faces five years in prison and fines up to
$250,000 at his sentencing Oct. 16. He also could be deported.
    Mai paid his bosses in Bangkok about $15,000 for each woman brought from
Thailand to be employed in Houston "modeling studios," according to a
statement from the U.S. Attorney's office in Houston. They were forced to
work as prostitutes until they paid a $40,000 smuggling fee.
    The Immigration and Naturalization Service has said the women, most of
whom are in their 20s, will be asked to leave the country voluntarily or
will be deported.
    Six other people who were indicted on similar charges are scheduled for
trial July 17.

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