Police ask prosecutors to indict 52 human trafficking suspects
Thailand struck another blow against modern day slavery last week as the Department of Special Investigations asked public prosecutors to file trafficking and other criminal charges against 52 suspects in the wake of a raid on a major massage parlor in Bangkok, submitting over 17,000 pages of findings to support their case.
In January, a team of officers from the Department of Special Investigations (DSI) and the military swooped down on the Victoria’s: The Secret Forever massage parlor in the Huai Khwang section of the capital after receiving a tip off that the establishment was holding underage girls and women against their will. They detained more than 80 women as suspected prostitutes and determined that 11 of them were underage. Some appeared to have been trafficked from neighboring countries.
The DSI submitted two separate requests to prosecutors to bring cases against two groups of suspects. The first group of seven suspects included the alleged owner Kampol Weerathepsuporn and six accomplices. The owner’s whereabouts are unknown and he is believed to have fled the country.
The second request, made last week, was for prosecutors to file charged against an additional 45 suspects consisting of massage parlor staff and other individuals believed to have been involved in the trafficking of some of the women. Police asked prosecutors to file charges related to human trafficking and procuring women for prostitution.
Thailand and the United States have been working more closely during the past three years on the issues of child trafficking and abuse. The Kingdom has established the Thailand Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (TICAC), through which the Royal Thai Police have been working directly with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation and Homeland Security Investigations. They share real-time information on reported cases of sexual exploitation facilitated online which often leads to human trafficking investigations.
Thailand has also opened two Children’s Advocacy Centers (ACT) with the collaboration of A21, an international non-profit organization working to end human trafficking. Based on a U.S. model, the Center assists child victims through every step of the judicial process as well as providing rehabilitation and counseling programs. The first center was established in Chiang Mai Province and the second in Chonburi province. Thailand plans to launch three more centers in coming years.