Thai police extend investigation & seek warrants in sex ring case

The mother of one of the young women allegedly forced into prostitution in Mae Hong Son talks to deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul in Bangkok on Tuesday. (Photo by Tawatchai Kemgumnerd)

Police will seek court warrants to arrest three police officers allegedly involved in sex trafficking in Mae Hong Son, a source familiar with the investigation said.

Investigators are compiling evidence to be submitted to a court in the province, asking it to issue warrants for three officers attached to Kong Koi police station for physical assault and rape, the source added.

Police Region 5 Commission chief Poonsap Prasertsak yesterday went to Mae Hong Son provincial police station to question an officer attached to Kong Koi police station as police widened an investigation into the sex trafficking of teenage girls in the province, the source said.

The police officer’s name was not disclosed.

The officer was taken for questioning after a teenager claimed she was raped and attacked in a resort room by a group of men including a police officer who wears dental braces and has a tattoo on his shoulder.

According to the source, the police officer bought a sexual service from a madam. The suspect who is now in police custody also implicated two of his colleagues in sex trafficking.

Yutthachai Thongchart, a police senior sergeant-major formerly attached to Mae Hong Son police, and two alleged madams have been arrested on charges of running a sex ring and human trafficking.

The three suspects were questioned by police in Mae Hong Son and were to be flown to Bangkok for interrogation by the anti-human trafficking police last week.

They have been charged with colluding to force teenagers aged 15-18 into prostitution and abducting children. The three denied the charges.

The probe also found that more high-ranking state officials including policemen could be involved in the sex ring.

The sex trade scandal surfaced last November after authorities cracked down on prostitution rings in Mae Hong Son.

Based on an account of the mother of one teenager, several teenagers were procured by madams for a party to celebrate the hiring of a high-ranking official at Hong Son Sueksa School on Oct 1 last year.

After the party, the officials and others allegedly paid for sexual services from teenage girls at several places including the Thanachot Resort in Muang district.

An initial probe found several high-ranking state officials were alleged clients, including Mae Hong Son governor Suebsak Iamwicharn.

The witness saw a picture of her daughter among girls forced into prostitution allegedly by a police senior sergeant-major who ran a flesh trade ring.

The Mae Hong Son governor has been investigated over his alleged involvement in the sex scandal.

Meanwhile, a group of human rights advocates demanded the Royal Thai Police step up their efforts to take legal action against suspects. They also called for a fact-finding committee to be set up.

-The Bangkok Post

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