Senior officer on run as Mae Hong Son scandal widens

Senior officer on run as Mae Hong Son scandal widens

Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, second from right, listens to representatives of Mae Hong Son community groups who have asked the police to clear their province of prostitution and human trafficking. The encounter took place in front of a room where police say sex services were bought and sold. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)
Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, second from right, listens to representatives of Mae Hong Son community groups who have asked the police to clear their province of prostitution and human trafficking. The encounter took place in front of a room where police say sex services were bought and sold. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)

MAE HONG SON - A provincial police deputy superintendent has gone into hiding as he is suspected in a widening teen prostitution scandal in which local police were both pimps and clients, authorities say.

Deputy national police chief Srivara Ransibrahmanakul made the revelation on Friday during a visit to the northern province. He reviewed investigative reports dealing with forced teen prostitution and inspected a police room where Pol Lt Col Mongkol Pantee, who is now at large, allegedly had sex with a teenage prostitute.

Mae Hong Son detectives are now looking for Pol Lt Col Mongkol, Pol Gen Srivara said.

At the provincial police headquarters, the deputy national police chief also met six people suspected of having bought sex from teenage prostitutes. Five were policemen whose ranks ranged from corporal to lieutenant colonel. The other was a teacher.

Sgt Maj Khatiphan Butsorn, a local official with the Internal Security Operations Command, showed up at the Mae Hong Son police headquarters on Friday to insist on his innocence. He told reporters there that he knew some of the girls involved in the case but he was investigating their sex ring.

Investigators from the police Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD) say the sex ring began in Mae Hong Son in 2014. A number of teenage girls were forced into the business and had images of owls tattooed on their chests. Investigators say pimps arranged for the girls to provide sexual services, with government officials said to be among the customers. In some cases, police say, girls were gang-raped.

The governor of Mae Hong Son was said to have been one of the customers but he denied the reports. He has since been transferred to Interior Ministry headquarters pending further investigations.

Police so far have made eight arrests, including a police senior sergeant major and two local women said to have acted as procurers.


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