One more arrested as cops hunt Surat Thani paedophile ring leader

One more arrested as cops hunt Surat Thani paedophile ring leader

Police yesterday arrested one more trafficker as their investigation into a Surat Thani child prostitution ring steps up.

On Wednesday, police raided 18 locations across the southern province linked to a sex trafficking ring. Since then, a number of officials have been implicated in the case, including Phisit Poonpipat, deputy director-general of the Department of Children and Youth (DCY) of the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security (MSDHS), other state officials as well as soldiers, teachers and doctors in the area.

The suspected trafficker is a mechanic while the alleged ringleader is the son of a well-known politician and is expected to turn himself in soon, Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn, assistant chief of the national police, said during a visit to the province to investigate the allegations.

Pol Lt Gen Surachate added that charges will be filed against a deputy director-general of MSDHS for complicity in the crime as well as attempting to coerce the administrators of a children's home into disposing of evidence that implicated him in the alleged abuse.

Two more suspects are being sought by police -- a woman said to have helped to procure the children for the ring, and the son of a well-known politician. Both are currently on the run, although police believe they are closing in on the pair.

All 10 suspects arrested earlier were granted bail set at 200,000 baht per person. Among them was a deputy chairman of Phunphin district's tambon administrative organisation's council who has now resigned from his position.

"The shelter director confirmed there has been interference [obstructing the investigation]," said Pol Lt Gen Surachate, who added that the victims had been subject to threats and assaults to keep them quiet. "All the children are now in witness protection in Bangkok and, with the help of their parents, are providing information to officers."

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