Thai police linked to forced prostitution ring

Mae Hong Song governor Suebsak Iamwichan (R)
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Governor denies involvement after mother of teenage girl claims officials were customers of Mae Hong son ring.

ARREST WARRANTS have been issued for a policeman and two women over their alleged roles in luring girls aged under 18 into prostitution in Mae Hong Son province and for human trafficking, while a plaintiff yesterday claimed a provincial governor was among the vice ring’s customers.

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Besides the arrest warrants issued on Monday for Piyawan “May” Sukma, Piyathas Parpthiensuwan and Senior Sgt-Major Yutthachai Thongchat of the Nam Piang Din police station on procurement charges, a court yesterday approved warrants for human trafficking charges, said deputy national police commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul.

Yutthachai was dismissed from work pending a disciplinary probe, he said, adding that the three suspects would be brought to Bangkok to face legal action by the Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD).

Srivara said the Provincial Police Region 5 chief had set up a fact-finding investigation in the case regarding a previous disciplinary investigation of Yutthachai that abruptly ended without reason, adding that there were suspicions that the investigatory panel had turned a blind eye to the officer’s wrongdoing.

The case came to light after a 43-year-old former police informant sought justice for her teenage daughter, who was allegedly lured into taking drugs, blackmailed and coerced into prostitution. The alleged crimes reportedly took place for years and several other girls were involved.

The mother, who asked to remain anonymous for safety reasons, yesterday provided information to Srivara at the Royal Thai Police headquarters, claiming that high-ranking officials in the province including a governor were customers of the prostitution ring.

However, Mae Hong Song governor Suebsak Iamwichan said he had nothing to do with the prostitution ring and would send an explanatory letter to the Interior Ministry.

Police investigators will also apply for arrest warrants for three policemen on charges of having sex with minors, said Srivara, adding that a thorough investigation would be conducted.

Meanwhile, the 30-year-old Piyathas claimed she was innocent and did not know Yutthachai.

She added that she had stopped being involved in prostitution long ago and now was a divorcee with a sick child. Piyathas said an acquaintance once asked her if she knew any girls who would have sex with a senior official and she had then contacted a girl, who agreed to have sex with the official.

After Piyathas was arrested in tambon Pang Moo on the night of November 6, she was brought to meet the former police informant, who claimed that her teenage daughter had disappeared – she is no longer missing –after being lured into prostitution by Piyawan.

Piyathas claimed she was told she would be released if she provided information implicating Piyawan.

She said Yutthachai’s name was also in the case report, despite Pang Moo not being in his jurisdiction.

Piyathas added that she had received a two-year suspended jail term and fined Bt15,000 fine for procuring an underage girl to work in prostitution.

“Now my name is linked to Senior Sgt-Major Yutthachai’s alleged network? I have nothing to do with him. I don’t even have his personal phone number,” she said.

“If I were one of his people, why would he arrest me for prostitution procurement? I think this case has more than meets the eye. I want the media to help restore my tarnished name,” she added. According to a source at the AHTD, Piyathas was arrested in a sting operation on November 6 as she accompanied an 18-year-old girl to provide sexual services for Bt2,000. The court on February 24 sentenced Piyathas to a 15-month jail term, which was suspended for two years, and a Bt15,000 fine. Piyathas’s 49-year-old mother urged for justice to be assured for all parties and said the plaintiff should present clear evidences of abuse and forced prostitution.

She added that the former informant’s daughter had asked for Piyathas’s help to find a job because she had no money, but Piyathas had told her that she was no longer involved in prostitution.

A police source said Mae Hong Son police on Monday checked girls, women and ladyboys involved in prostitution for owl tattoos, which purportedly is the gang’s signature. A few were found with owl tattoos, which were inked outside Mae Hong Son a long time ago, but they were not part of the forced prostitution gang, the source said.

-The Nation

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