IRS Criminal Investigation uses financial investigative techniques to combat human trafficking


Date: January 9, 2023


IRS Criminal Investigation (CI) leverages its financial expertise to combat human trafficking by targeting the illegal flow of money to and from the organizations behind this criminal activity. The agency investigates an average of 20 human trafficking cases each year accounting for an estimated sum of $10 million in laundered funds.

"Human trafficking – like many crimes – involves a web of financial trails. Our special agents use the same financial expertise they use to unravel tax cases to take down criminal enterprises that force or coerce people to prostitute themselves or work against their will," said CI Chief Jim Lee.

During the past three fiscal years, CI special agents spent thousands of hours investigating alleged human trafficking activity with federal law enforcement partners. The bulk of CI's investigations occurred in Arizona and California, but human trafficking activity can take place anywhere.

In June 2023, CI worked alongside federal partners to indict four individuals on criminal charges for their roles in an alleged sex trafficking operation that recruited women from Russia and other Eastern European countries to work as sex workers in the United States.

In April 2023, Sumalee Intarthong, aka Alice Spencer Warren, was sentenced for her role in a large-scale Thai sex trafficking organization that required victims to prostitute themselves to pay a bondage debt of $40,000 to $60,000 for their travel from Thailand to the United States. The organization moved tens of millions of dollars in illegal proceeds from the United States to Thailand and elsewhere.

CI investigative support led to the November 2021 superseding indictment of Apollo Carreon Quiboloy, the leader of a Philippines-based church, for operating a sex trafficking scheme that coerced girls and young women to have sex with the church's leaders under threats of eternal damnation. A previous indictment alleged Quiboloy and other church leaders were involved in a labor trafficking scheme that brought church members to the U.S. on fraudulent visas and forced the members to solicit donations for a bogus charity.

January is National Human Trafficking Prevention Month, and CI has joined forces with its federal partners to issue information about human trafficking indicators and announce federal initiatives to combat this heinous crime. Follow the agency's social media pages on X and LinkedIn to learn more.

CI is the law enforcement arm of the IRS, responsible for conducting financial crime investigations, including tax fraud, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering, public corruption, healthcare fraud, identity theft and more. CI special agents are the only federal law enforcement agents with investigative jurisdiction over violations of the Internal Revenue Code, obtaining a nearly 90% federal conviction rate. The agency has 20 field offices located across the U.S. and 12 attaché posts abroad.