Girls in one of the massage parlour hide their faces from the press.
Flying the flag for the anti-human trafficking dragnet, Police Commander Pol Maj Gen Patchara Boonyasit and Phuket Governor, Nisit Jansomwong, visited two of the target places themselves – two massage parlours in the Phoolpon area of Phuket Town.
The two raids, aimed specifically at discovering underage sex workers or women forced into prostitution, drew a blank, however.
In fact, in all of the 292 places visited during the two days, not one case of human trafficking was discovered.
During the raid of the first massage parlour, where about 15 women – who clearly didn’t want to be identified – were working, police checked the owner’s business licence and all the women’s ID cards.
Everything was found to be in order, with none of the women being under 18 or complaining of being forced to work.
Police then moved on to a second parlour close by. Some of the workers, who were surprised by the raid, were in a room awaiting customers. Once again, checks confirmed that all was in order, and that nobody was forced to work in the shop.
One woman’s ID card did not give her full date of birth, only the year (1985). She told police that she was 31 years old and that she had transferred her nationality from Burmese to Thai.
Gen Patchara told media who accompanied police during the raids, “We have done raids like this before, but this time we have to work harder and ensure that underage workers and trafficked women are not working as prostitutes in Phuket.
“If we do find any woman working who is under 18, the owner of the parlour will be charged according to the law and the shop will be closed down.
“If the girls are Thai, they will be sent to a foster home. If they are foreign we will send them back to their country.”
He said that other areas of Phuket will also be checked, especially for childern selling garlands and flowers, and that if any illegal workers are found they will be arrested. This, he said, will make the mission a success.
Elsewhere, police visited 39 karaoke bars, 76 massage shops, 64 entertainment places, 22 hotels and resorts, 31 restaurants, seven fish canneries and nine seafood storage facilities, 11 fishing boats along with workers at the fishing pier, six prawn farms, six ruber plantations, seven known haunts of beggars and six places where beggars live, and six tailor’s workshops
The raids came as part of the national governnment’s drive to lift Thailand out of Tier 3, the lowest grade in the United States̕ Trafficking in Persons Report.
Pol Col Peerayut Kalajedee superintendent of Kathu Police, told The Phuket News, “We have found no human trafficking yet.”