St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - A federal grand jury indictment that was unsealed late Tuesday in St. Paul charges 17 people with participating in an international sex trafficking organization.

Four people in Minnesota are among those charged in the case, which involved transporting hundreds of young women from Thailand to various locations in the United States using phony visas. Once in the US, the women were forced to work as prostitutes. 12 of the people named in the indictment are Thai nationals, while the other five are U.S. citizens.

“The 17 people charged in this indictment ran a highly sophisticated sex trafficking scheme,” said U.S. Attorney Andrew Luger. “They promised women in Thailand a chance at the American dream, but instead exploited them, coerced them and forced them to live a nightmare. In short, the victims lived like modern day sex slaves.”

Lugar says the indictment represents the Justice Department’s ninth major sex trafficking case since 2014, but he also notes it is the first to target an entire organization. The investigation was opened in 2009 and covered several US cities, including Minneapolis, Chicago, Los Angeles and Washington D.C.

A news release from the US Attorney in Minnesota identified two of the Minnesotans charged in the case. 59-year-old John Zbracki of Lakeville faces five prostitution and sex trafficking counts, while 31-year-old Supapon Sonprasit of St. Paul is accused of conspiracy to commit visa fraud.