MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A federal jury in St. Paul convicted 36 people for their roles in an international sex trafficking organization Wednesday.

Prosecutors say the criminal enterprise trafficked hundreds of Thai women for sex across the United States, including Minneapolis.

They say the organization used money laundering to conceal and sustain itself.

U.S. Attorney Erica MacDonald (credit: CBS)

The victims were often from poor backgrounds and spoke little to no English. They were coerced into participating through false promises of a better life in the United States.

“It exploited, it abused, enslaved and sold women in response to the high demand for commercial sex that exists not only in the United States, but here in Minnesota,” said United States Attorney Erica MacDonald.

During the investigation, tens of millions of dollars was traced to the organization. Testimony revealed that $40 million were sent to Thailand by one money launderer alone.

To date, investigators have recovered $1.5 million in cash.