Deputy national police chief Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn announced the news at meeting held at Region 8 Police headquarters, at the northern end of Phuket, yesterday (Mar 30).
The three arrested and charged for the offence were named as Paul Herbert Corbett, 67, from Australia; Max Rigobert Ramasamy, 68, from France; and Mutu Pan, 44, from China.
Three other suspects wanted for the same offence had already fled the country, Maj Gen Surachate said.
The suspects were named as Jeffrey Lynn Amman, 50, and Jesse James Demian, 49, both from the US; and Ahmed Saleh Balobead, 40, from Saudi Arabia.
Arrest warrants had been issued and police are pursuing their arrests, he said.
Officers had found that the Velvet bar, located in Soi Sea Dragon off Bangla Rd, and raided on Mar 15, was registered as operating under the company Aurum Bualuang Co Ltd.
The company operated three more bars in Patong as part of the child sex trafficking network, Maj Gen Surachate added. The bars were named as Model, Bangla Beach and Strip Phuket Bar.
Arrested warrants had been issued for five company directors. Police had arrested four of them, including Benjamaporn Krajadkaew and Supaporn Lions, he said.
Ronnie Peterhitch, a foreigner named as a company director, had already fled the country. Efforts were underway to have Interpol issue a ‘Red Notice’ for his arrest, he added.
The charges against the directors include breach of the Foreign Business Act for using nominees, he noted.
The raid on the Velvet bar in Patong had led to 36 raids in 10 provinces across Thailand, Maj Gen Surachate explained.
“We served search warrants at 36 locations in 10 provinces. including Bangkok, Nonthaburi, Chonburi, Prachinburi, Nakhon Sawan, Nakhon Ratchasima, Surin, Ratchaburi, Petchaburi and Phuket.
“We have seized 52 bank accounts which had a turnover of B100 million,” he said.
The Anti-Money Laundering Office, Department of Business Development and Ministry of Commerce had all assisted with the police operation, Maj Gen Surachate noted.
Police had seized assets worth in total B22mn, including two townhouses together worth B7mn, a condo worth B5mn, four plots of land worth B10mn and four motorbikes worth B500,000, he said.
Six girls had been rescued and taken into care following the raid on the Velvet bar and the further investigations, Maj Gen Surachate confirmed.
Police had identified 109 customers who had paid for sex with minors. Most of them were foreigners, paying B10,000 a time, he said.
Since the investigation had been expanded, another four victims had been found and taken into care, bringing the total number of girls rescued from the child sex trafficking network to 10, he added.
“Police will continue to look for more people involved in child trafficking and seize their assets to stop them from repeating the same business. The seized assets will be spent on helping the victims once the case is closed,” Maj Gen Surachate said.
Not mentioned in the official reports of the meeting chaired by Maj Gen Surachate yesterday was that five top-ranking officers at Patong Police Station, including Patong Police Chief Col Sujin Nilabadee, had been transferred immediately pending further investigation into the child sex trafficking ring operating in the Patong Police area.
No updates have been provided since the five officers were transferred on Mar 16.
Kurt | 02 April 2023 - 08:17:21