20 officials probed for 'sponsored services'

20 officials probed for 'sponsored services'

Officials escort a woman from Victoria's Secret massage parlour during the raid in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Officials escort a woman from Victoria's Secret massage parlour during the raid in Bangkok on Friday. (Photo by Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)

Twenty government officials might have been implicated in human trafficking following the crackdown on a massage parlour in Bangkok on Friday.

The names are reportedly officials on the list of “sponsored guests” in the den’s ledgers, which showed only their positions but are still identifiable thanks to the date and time records.

A special operation of Department of Special Investigation and administrative officials raided Victoria’s Secret in Wang Thonglang district on Friday following complaints about possible abuse of underage girls. They took into custody a man and 113 women who worked there. 

Kongrob Prathumnat of the Provincial Administration Department who heads the criminal investigation submitted the list of names to the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) on Monday for further investigation.

The PACC normally handles cases of corruption and malfeasance against lower-ranking officials while the National Anti-Corruption Commission takes care of such cases against politicians and high-ranking officials.

After questioning the women, the team sorted them into three groups.

Three of them -- two from Myanmar and the other from China -- were categorised as victims of human trafficking as they are under 18.

“A 19-year-old Myanmar woman told us she had been deceived into prostitution at Victoria’s Secret since she was 17,” he said.  

The trio were sent to Kredtrakarn Protection and Occupation Development Centre under the Ministry of Human Resources in Nonthaburi province for shelter and rehabilitation.

Another 25 women -- 21 from Myanmar, three from Laos and one Thai -- were put in the second group since the team has yet to clearly establish whether they had been forced into the sex trade and were under 18.

This group was sent for bone density tests at Police’s General Hospital to determine their ages and the team would seek court approval to detain them for seven days for further questioning.

The last group consists of the remaining 85 women -- three of whom are Thais -- who were found not to be the trafficking victims and will be prosecuted. 

For the last group, authorities agreed to let Wang Thonglang police charge the Thais with assembling at brothels under the 1996 prostitution law, punishable by a jail term of one month or a fine of 1,000 baht.

The foreigners will face two charges -- taking jobs other than specified in work permits and assembling at brothels. They will be sent to the Immigration Bureau for deportation.

Five more men were also arrested on Monday on charges of prostitution and/or harbouring illegal migrants. They are Sattatham Chaengchai, 67, Chainarong Ansuk, 54, Manas Auamthap, 49, Eknapat Jaruwatpathomkul, 30, and Somchai Sang-udom. 

Police sought to detain them with the Criminal Court in the afternoon.


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