Facebook flesh trade procurement racket busted

Facebook flesh trade procurement racket busted

Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Suwanna Suwanjuta, centre, announces  the arrest of three members of a humantrafficking gang human trafficking gang luring Thai women into forced prostitution in Malaysia, at press conference on Friday. The  inset is intended to explain how the gang operated. (Photo by Post Today)
Department of Special Investigation (DSI) chief Suwanna Suwanjuta, centre, announces the arrest of three members of a humantrafficking gang human trafficking gang luring Thai women into forced prostitution in Malaysia, at press conference on Friday. The inset is intended to explain how the gang operated. (Photo by Post Today)

Three members of a gang that used social media to lure Thai women into forced prostitution in Malaysia have been arrested in Bangkok and Phayao provinces, the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) said on Friday.

The arrest of the suspects, a Malaysian man and his two Thai wives, was announced at a press conference.

The trio were identified as Kheng Hsiang Low, alias Steven Low, 40, and Ms Ratchadapan Saenkasem and Ms Kalaya Somsri, 35.

DSI chief Suwanna Suwanjuta said they have been charged with human trafficking and procuring women for the flesh trade.

The Malaysian national, caught at Mor Chit bus terminal, used Ms Ratchadapan, who ran a beauty salon in Bangkok’s Bang Bon area, and Ms Kalaya, who lived in Phayao’s Dok Kham Tai district, to procure Thai girls to work in Malaysia through a series of Facebook pages. 

To gang members claimed Mr Steven had shares in a spa, karaoke bars and hotels in Kuala Lumpur and women wanting to work there could earn about 100,000 baht a month. They were also offered free accommodation and meals.

The offer of such well-paid jobs had resulted in 6-7 victims being lured into the sex trade in Malaysia each month.

On arrival in Malaysia, brokers had placed them in rooms that were locked remotely from outside to prevent the women escaping. They would leave their rooms only when required to provide sex services to customers.

Six Thai women lured by the gang had sought help from the Thai embassy in Kuala Lumpur, which then coordinated with the DSI to arrest the suspects.

Pol Lt Col Komwit Pattanarat, acting chief of the DSI's operations centre on prevention of trafficking, said documents seized from the suspects showed several hundred women had been drawn into forced prostitution by the gang over the last five years or more.

The gang's Facebook pages - Steveninternational, Stevenliew 87, Stevenlow 3366 and Steventhailand 2014 - had not been updated since the three suspects were arrested, he said.

The DSI was hunting down another gang member who was still at large, said Pol Lt Col Komwit.

Pol Maj Arit Thatsapan, director of the DSI’s crime prevention and suppression office 3, said six women had been rescued - two groups of three each. They told authorities they had been force to provide sex services without getting paid as the Malaysian brokers claimed they each had to first pay off a debt of 30,000 baht supposedly incurred in getting them jobs.


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