Two suspects, a middle-aged man and a woman, were arrested on Tuesday night. It came as police units closed down an underage sex den in the Thonburi district of Bangkok. 

A joint police operation by the Human Trafficking Agency and Crime Suppression Division (CSD) as well as officers from Bukkhalo Police Station closed down a venue linked to underage prostitution activities linked to Bangkok high school students. The illicit operation was housed in a karaoke bar located in Thonburi.

The scene outside the karaoke shop in the Thonburi area of Bangkok on Tuesday night after a joint police operation descended on it. The two owners, a 46-year-old man and a 45-year-old woman, were arrested. It came after police confirmed illegal activities were taking place on the premises. (Source: Crime Suppression Division (CSD))

An ongoing campaign by the Royal Thai Police and its human trafficking division targeting the underage sex trade scored a hit in the capital.

On Tuesday night, a well-organised sting operation was launched against a karaoke shop in the Thonburi area of Bangkok.

Joint operation led by the elite Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and Human Trafficking agencies after reliable intelligence and tip-offs were received

The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and Human Trafficking Division, Subdivision One, had received reports of high school students working as hostesses on the premises.

The operation was approved by Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) chief General Jiraphat Phuridet. In addition, the police agencies sought and worked with Bukkhalo Police Station in the Samre area of Thonburi.

Reliable intelligence had revealed that the karaoke shop was being run by 45-year-old Ms Somsat and 46-year-old Mr Kritsada.

Police had knowledge of the type of service being offered at the shop.

Before launching the sting operation, ฿100 banknotes were copied and verified to confirm that money was paid over relating to the shop’s services.

Undercover policeman entered the Karaoke shop with recorded ฿100 bills to purchase the services on offer there. He confirmed the veracity of the reports

Afterwards, an undercover policeman entered the Thonburi establishment posing as a customer.

In short, he was able to meet no less than eight teenage girls at the shop. All were reportedly aged between 15 and 18.

At length, he spoke with one of the girls identified as Ms A. 

She confirmed to him that she was available. In particular, she explained to him the nature of the entertainment services on offer. These included sexual intimacy.

However, she told him he would have to seek Mr Kritsada’s permission.

The shocking reports were, in short, confirmed by the appalled policeman.

In short order, the undercover policeman paid over ฿1,000 to Ms Somsat. He was given free condoms. Significantly, the tip provided to police and the intelligence received were borne out by the policeman’s experience.

Owner took the teenage girl on a motorbike to a nearby hotel. However, on arrival back in the shop, it was not long before he himself was taken away by police

Afterwards, Mr Kritsada took the 15-year-old girl identified as Ms A on a motorbike to a nearby hotel.

He then returned to the karaoke shop. However, he was soon met by police and human trafficking officers. Both he and his partner, who had witnessed and taken part in the crime, were placed under arrest.

After that, officers were able to confirm that the money paid over was in the possession of Ms Somsat.

In short, they compared the serial numbers of the ฿100 bills used to tender payment, and they matched.

At that point, there were only three remaining girls at the shop, which appeared to be quite busy.

The girls were taken into the care of social workers. Police told reporters that they would be assisted and benefit also from legal protection

Both suspects taken into custody facing charges

Both suspects were taken to the headquarters of Thailand’s Human Trafficking Division for questioning.

Afterwards, they were to face legal prosecution. An order will also be made subsequently on the premises, which should see it closed for business.

In a press briefing after the police operation and raid, the Head of the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) Police Major General Montree Theskhan had a warning for entertainment venue operators.

Firstly, no person under 18 years of age is legally allowed to work in such establishments. In response, the police will act severely to stamp out the scourge of human trafficking.

In addition, the police force in Bangkok will no longer tolerate invisible prostitution on such premises.

Government is preparing to bring legislation to parliament legalising prostitution in the kingdom. However, its passage is, at this time, far from certain

Presently, the Thai government is preparing legislation to legalize sex work in the kingdom. Certainly, this will be for qualified adults.

Said to be based on the German legal model, it will provide employment protection for sex workers as well as taxing the industry.

Same-sex marriage law passed by the lower house. Next comes a law to legalise prostitution in Thailand

However, the legislation has not yet been introduced in parliament.

At the same time, it is coming at a time of rising political instability. Previously, such legislation has drawn opposition from traditional conservatives in Thailand.

Additionally, it will be opposed by some officials and those who work in Thailand’s underworld. Certainly, this includes bent officials who profit from corruption income linked to turning a blind eye to the trade. 

Law enforcement and police taking a tough line on underage age victims and the human trafficking trade

Nonetheless, a tough line has been taken by law enforcement in recent years targeting the human trafficking of underage victims.

In addition, police have targeted the wider human trafficking industry using Thailand as a hub.

This is related to pressure from non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and in particular the US State Department which annually grades Thailand’s efforts in this regard.

The goal of an improved status is seen as essential to Thailand’s effort to establish its reputation.

Consequently, the kingdom will be seen as a more attractive place for badly needed inward investment and commercial engagement with US firms.

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Further reading:

Same-sex marriage law passed by lower house. Next comes a law to legalise prostitution in Thailand

Government reviewing prostitution laws, public consultations expected in 2021 amid reform calls from workers

Full steam ahead on LGBTQ rights in Thailand, new gender identity law ordered by the PM at cabinet

Gay and LGBT people in Thailand on the verge of same sex partnership era with progressive reforms

Police probing murder-suicide theory after the bodies of two lesbian lovers were found at Pattaya hotel resort

Underworld surrogacy trade exposed, man arrested for smuggling semen from Thailand into Laos