3 minors rescued in crackdown on sex trade in Udon Thani

3 minors rescued in crackdown on sex trade in Udon Thani

Two boys and one girl have been rescued in recent crackdowns on human trafficking and sex trade gangs in the northeastern province of Udon Thani, while two men were detained for procuring and three other men arrested for buying sex from the girl.

The outcome of the operations was announced by police yesterday.

Surasak Khunanan, 35, a resident of Udon Thani's Muang district, was detained in a sting operation while he took the two boys, aged 13 and 15, to undercover agents posing as customers, police said.

Klaiwut Saengbandit, 44, a resident of Nong Bua Lam Phu's Si Bun Ruang district, was detained in another operation while he took the girl to an undercover agent pretending to be a customer, police said.

Phiwat Chanset, 34, from Bangkok, Morakot Yotphimpha, 30, from Loei, and Witthaya Thanurat, 62, from Udon Thani, were arrested on suspicion of having bought sex from the girl between February and March, police said.

There was another customer, a South Korean, who had already left Thailand but who police have information about him buying sex from a minor, which was arranged by the same trafficking gang, police said.

The two rescued boys were lured into prostitution for which they were paid 2,000 baht in exchange for having sex with a customer, said a source, adding that the boys are from poor families.

The boys have already been taken back to their own families but are still required to be closely monitored by local social workers, while the girl is still under the care of a government agency, said the source.

Mr Surasak and Mr Klaiwut were accused of procuring for illegal prostitution involving minors, which may result in a prison sentence of six to 15 years and a fine of between 600,000 and 1.5 million baht, police said.

Mr Phiwat, Mr Morakot and Mr Witthaya, who are accused of raping and taking a minor away from her parents, may face from two years to 10 years in jail and a fine of between 20,000 and 200,000 baht, police said.

Pol Maj Gen Surachet Hakpal, deputy commissioner of the Tourist Police Division, said the problem of human trafficking in which child prostitutes were offered to tourists has earned Thailand notoriety for "sex tours", which has led the country to be put on a blacklist of trafficking in persons.

All concerned parties are working together to tackle this type of illegal sex trade, which has now been flooding the social media such as Facebook and Line, he said.

The police are pursuing close to 100 more cases involving minors and more arrest warrants are expected to be issued soon, he said.

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