DSI raids clinics in surrogacy crackdown

DSI raids clinics in surrogacy crackdown

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) raided three clinics in Bangkok and one building in Nong Khai this week and arrested a man suspected of acting as an agent for a transnational surrogacy ring.

Atsadawut Sripita, DSI assistant spokesman, and Pol Capt Tinnawut Seelapat, director of the Bureau of Foreign Affairs and Transnational Crime, said yesterday that DSI officers had raided three locations in Bangkok and one in Nong Khai, a province bordering Laos.

This was part of investigations into a transnational surrogacy ring that is believed to be connected to a case in Bangkok in February last year when a one-year-old toddler called Thaenthai went missing from the GS Kik nursery. The DSI got involved after local police found the baby was likely the victim of a syndicate operating in the Central and Northeast regions.

At that time, the DSI raided a nursery in Nong Khai's Phon Phisai district and found two babies believed to have been born to paid surrogate mothers. Police also found a bank book that indicated about 20 surrogate mothers had been hired by an agent, with the women being offered 450,000-500,000 baht for each baby they "delivered" for the gang.

Police have since expanded their investigation. On Aug 23, DSI deputy director-general Pol Capt Piya Raksakul led his officers and officials from the Institute of Forensic Medicine and the Department of Health Service Support to raid three clinics in Bangkok after a search warrant was issued.

The first raid took place at a fertility clinic on Ngam Wong Wan Road in Chatuchak district. Mr Atsadawut said the DSI found a doctor who is a fertility specialist working at the clinic. He had provided fertility diagnosis and treatment for paid surrogate mothers.

The doctor did this from 2018-2020. Officers also found medical records of a group of women who had acted as illegal surrogates, Mr Atsadawut said.

The second raid occurred at a fertility clinic on Phetchaburi Road in Bang Kapi district. The same doctor worked there as a part-time physician offering diagnoses on fertility.

The last raid was at a fertility clinic on Phloenchit Road in Pathumwan district. The doctor's transaction records linked him to the clinic's operations, police said. Moreover, paid surrogate mothers had been given health examinations by this clinic before being sent abroad for intracytoplasmic sperm injections, according to a DSI assistant spokesman. Police also found the passports of the surrogate mothers and their infants. The clinic does not have permission to use medical reproductive technology or offer such services, Mr Atsadawut said.

Later on Aug 28, police from the DSI and Nong Khai Provincial Police arrested Sunate Chomsri for his alleged involvement. While searching his house, police found a list of names of surrogate mothers who had been procured and paid by Mr Sunate, with the intended customers believed to be foreigners.

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