Police smash Chiang Mai paedophile prostitution ring

Police smash Chiang Mai paedophile prostitution ring

Pillars of northern province's society among 23 suspects

Arrest warrants were issued Monday for 23 people — including government workers, politicians, a former abbot and an ex-soldier — for allegedly molesting underage girls in Chiang Mai.

The 23 alleged paedophiles are wanted on charges of sexual abuse of a child under 15, regardless of whether the child is willing or not, said Pol Maj Gen Songtham Anlapart, deputy chief of Region 5 Provincial Police.

A total of 25 warrants were issued after Children and Women's Protection Centre and anti-human trafficking officers rescued three girls aged ages 13-15 from a brothel where they forced into prostitution by a woman listed among the wanted.

The girls told authorities so-called mamasan contacted clients through the Line mobile-messaging application, Pol Maj Gen Songtham said.

It was reported that those wanted included well-known figures in the Chiang Mai social scene. Among them were senior ministry bureaucrats, successful businessmen, local politicians and some university lecturers.

Of the group, about a dozen suspects have been arrested. Among them are Maj Kriengsak Maiwong, 60, a former army officer attached to a camp in Chiang Mai, and Pone Sungsiri, 47, a former abbot of a well-known temple in the province.

Maj Kriengsak is accused of simultaneously molesting all three girls at a "love hotel" in Chiang Mai's Santitham area. Police apprehended him at his home in tambon Don Kaew of Mae Rim district on Monday afternoon.

He denied the charges during questioning.

Pol Col Wachira Karnchanawipada, chief of Chang Puak police station, told Thairath Online that Maj Kriengsak's relatives posted bail with a surety of 200,000 baht this morning so that he could prepare to fight the case in court.

The police investigator believed the suspect did not pose a flight risk and allowed him to be released on bail, Pol Col Wachira said.

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