Deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surchate Hakparn revealed the news during a visit to Phuket yesterday (Mar 18).
According to a Royal Thai Police report, Gen Surachate’s visit was to speak with Region 8 Police, Immigration police and Phuket Provincial Police to expedite the investigation into the network and to follow-up on the progress in the case.
Gen Surachate’s visit followed a special operations team from the Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) raiding the ‘Velvet bar’ on Soi Sea Dragon on Wednesday night (Mar 15).
Patong Police were not part of the operation. Immediately following the raid, five senior officers at Patong Police Station, including Patong Police Chief Col Sujin Nilabadee, were removed from duty.
The bar was operating as a general bar for tourists, but was offering underage girls as prostitutes to foreign customers. The two women were placed under arrest and later charged for human trafficking for the purpose of sexual exploitation of children.
While the bar was being raided, other officers entered a hotel nearby where prostitutes working for the bar were waiting for customers. Six of the sex workers were underage. The youngest was just 15 years old. All six were taken into protective care.
Gen Surachate yesterday said the expanded investigation into the child sex trafficking network had identified seven more underage girls being used by the network. Two of them had now also been taken into protective care.
The key suspect, named by police only as “Mr Rolly”, had fled Bangkok to Laos, Gen Surchate said.
Police are searching for two other key suspects believed to still be in the country, he added.
Gen Surachate explained that police were also investigating Thai nationals used as nominees to allow foreign nationals to operate the nightlife businesses now under investigation for being part of the child sex trafficking network.
The network is extensive, Gen Surachate said.
“There are many branches in tourist province areas,” he said.
“The child victims traveled from many provinces in the North, Northeastern and Central regions, most of them claiming to have family problems and going to live with relatives,” he added.
“Child sexual exploitation is a form of human trafficking that should not happen and should not exist in the area. Such offenses may occur from the negligence of both administrative and police officials,” Gen Surachate said.
“In such cases, there must be a final prosecution,” he added.
Additional reporting by Eakkapop Thongtub
DeKaaskopp | 20 March 2023 - 15:24:39