The arrest of the alleged child sex trafficker was announced on the Phuket Immigration Checkpoint Facebook page, which primarily covers the anti-criminal activities of Immigration Bureau officers working at Phuket airport.
According to the report, the arrest of the alleged sex trafficker took place at 7.30am on that day (May 20) at the International Arrivals zone of the airport.
Since Phuket airport does not operate any flights during the night, this was the very beginning of the airport’s working day, with only one international flight having landed in Phuket by that time. The flight in question was Qatar Airways QR842 from Doha, which arrived ahead of schedule at 7:25 am, according to FlightRadar24 website.
The suspect, whose name and nationality have not been revealed, was arrested on Phuket Provincial Court’s warrant number Jor-141/2566 issued on Mar 23, 2023.
The Phuket office of the Immigration Bureau provided the following description of the charges against the suspect: "taking away a minor over 15 years but not yet over 18 years of age from the parent, guardian, or caretaker for obscene actions even with the consent of the minor, and taking away a minor over 15 years but not yet over 18 years of age from the parent, guardian, or caretaker for indecent actions even with the consent of the minor."
These charges fall under Section 319 of the Criminal Code, commonly known as "child sex trafficking."
Patong in nationwide sex trafficking network
Phuket Immigration did not provide further details on the specific investigation that led to the Phuket Provincial Court issuing warrant number Jor-141/2566 on Mar 23, 2023.
However, the date aligns chronologically with the ongoing high-profile investigation into a child sex trafficking network.
On Mar 15, the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) raided Velvet Bar on Soi Sea Dragon in Patong which had been offering underage girls as prostitutes to foreign customers. Police began a full-scale investigation overseen by Deputy Commander of the Royal Thai Police Gen Surchate Hakparn.
On Mar 18, Gen Surchate Hakparn, visited Phuket and announced that the Velvet Bar raid had exposed a nationwide child sex trafficking network operating in other tourist areas of the country. According to Gen Surchate’s statement, by Mar 18, the police had already identified three key leaders of the criminal network.
On Mar 30, Gen Surchate returned to Phuket to announce that his officers had arrested three foreigners for purchasing underage Thai girls for sex, while three other suspects wanted for the same offense had already fled the country.
Arrest warrants had been issued for those three and police had identified 109 other customers who had paid for sex with minors, Gen Surachate added on Mar 30.
Ronnie Peterhitch, believed to be the leader of the child sex trafficking network that included Velvet, Model, Bangla Beach, and Strip Phuket Bars in Patong, had also left the country and remained at large as of Mar 30.
Kurt | 24 May 2023 - 00:09:37