By The Nation
AS MANY as 20 state officials have become suspects over alleged illegal activities connected to the Victoria’s: The Secret Forever massage parlour.
An ongoing investigation has revealed that the massage parlour had engaged in prostitution employing sex workers, including those younger than 15 years old.
Deputy National Police Commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said yesterday that the case would be treated as a human-trafficking case.
“All those involved will be charged,” he said.
A joint team from the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) and the military raided Victoria’s: The Secret Forever massage parlour last Friday, rounding up 113 sex workers on the premises.
After the raid, five senior policemen at the Wang Thong Lang Police Station – whose jurisdiction covers the massive massage parlour in Bangkok – were transferred.
A special taskforce from the Provincial Administration Department yesterday officially informed the Office of Public-Sector Anti-Corruption Commission (PACC) that 20 officials were suspected of wrongdoing in the massage-parlour case.
PACC staff said the commission would review the list of names and supporting evidence before coordinating with relevant authorities for further action.
Kongrob Kratumnad from the Provincial Administration Department said multidisciplinary teams had already interviewed the 113 women and girls rounded up in the raid.
The teams had concluded that some had clearly been lured into prostitution, he said, adding that that most of them were foreigners.
Srivara said female foreigners working at massage parlour had held temporary permits to stay and work in Thailand, so police would investigate further as to whether the case constituted a cross-border prostitution ring and to determine who else had been involved.
“We will take actions against the massage parlour’s owner, licence holder, manager, procurer, cashiers and agents that bring alleged human-trafficking victims to the place,” he said.
DSI deputy chief Pol Colonel Songsak Raksaksakul said his agency had clear evidence that human traffickers had lured underage girls, most of whom were foreigners, into prostitution.
“The victims were sent to several entertainment venues including Victoria’s: The Secret Forever,” he said.
Pol Lt-General Dr Vitoon Nitivarangkul of the Police Hospital said his institute had already conducted lab tests on 27 alleged victims from the parlour.
“Of them, three are apparently younger than 15 years old,” he said.
He said 12 others were older than 18, judging by test results, and the rest could be younger or older as bone-mass and dental tests had been inconclusive.
Pol Lt-Colonel Supat Thamthanarug, who heads the DSI Bureau of Human Trafficking Crime, said his agency had begun investigating the massage parlour early last year.
“It started from a complaint filed by women who successfully fled from brothels in Malaysia,” he said.
The victims initially lodged a complaint with a foundation before the DSI decided to step in, Supat said.
“They then told us that they had been forced into the flesh trade when they were just between 12 and 13 years old at Victoria’s: The Secret Forever. After spending a few years there, they were sent to Malaysia,” Supat said.
At present, six suspects are in detention after they were arrested following last Friday’s raid.
Meanwhile, Metropolitan Police Commissioner Pol Lt-General Chanthep Sesavej said Wang Thong Lang Police Station superintendent Pol Colonel Thammanoon Boonruang had already responded to a transfer order but denied that he had used services at the massage parlour.
“He claimed he was with his family at the time records found at the place suggested he had dropped in to use its services,” Chanthep said.
DSI chief Pol Colonel Paisit Wongmuang said he had checked safe-deposit boxes at the massage parlour and found documents and cash inside.
“We will pore over evidence and investigate the financial records of suspects involved the crimes,” he said.