Five senior officers attached to Patong police station have been transferred to inactive posts, following a raid on a bar in Kathu district of Phuket where two women were arrested for procuring girls into the flesh trade and six girls were rescued.
The five officers, including the station superintendent, were moved to the Phuket provincial police office’s operations centre.
The order, signed on Thursday by Pol Maj Gen Sermphan Sirikhong, chief of Phuket police, took effect immediately.
Named in the order were Pol Col Sujin Nilbodee, Patong police superintendent; Pol Lt Col Somporn Surin, deputy superintendent for crime suppression; Pol Lt Col Naruebodin Pangleesen, deputy superintendent for investigation; Pol Lt Col Suthiwat Liangbunchinda, crime suppression chief; and Pol Lt Col Suchart Chumpoosaeng, investigation chief.
On Wednesday night, a Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) task force led local officials to raid Velvet bar on Soi Sea Dragon of Bangla Walking Street in tambon Patong. They received a tip-off from the Operation Underground Railroad, an international anti-human trafficking organisation that the bar had allegedly procured girls aged under 18 to provide sex services for foreign customers.
Officials were divided into two teams. The first team arrested two women – bar caretaker Thaksakorn Supa-akarapokin and girl procurer Watcharaporn Thongmak – on charges of procuring girls into the sex trade and operating the bar without permission.
The second team rescued six girls under 18 at a nearby hotel. They were treated as human trafficking victims. The youngest one was 15 years old, according to the DOPA’s law enforcement centre.
Narong Thipsiri, the department’s inspector-general and director of the law enforcement centre, who led the task force, said human trafficking, a national agenda item, has affected the country’s economy and reputation.
The department has continuously launched crackdown operations on human trafficking in a bid to move up from the Tier 2 watchlist to Tier 1 in the next US Trafficking in Persons (TIP) Report, said Mr Narong.