Thailand: 57 alleged prostitutes rounded up in Phuket Town

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

PHUKET TOWN: A team of provincial civil defense officials and volunteer police on Sunday night raided three well-known entertainment venues, in the heart of Phuket Town, suspected of serving as fronts for prostitution.

A spokesperson from the Phuket Provincial Office Public Relations Bureau said the raids were ordered by Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop following complaints from local residents that the three venues – two massage parlors and a nightclub – were actually fronts for prostitution.

A total of 57 alleged female prostitutes, including at least one Burmese girl under the age of 18, were rounded up by the special task force led by Phuket Deputy Governor (Palad) Chaiwat Tephee, Phuket Provincial Defense Office head Wirote Suwanwong, and volunteer police.

One of the venues raided is a long-established massage parlor that specializes in full service ‘soapy’ massages by sexily-attired women who wear numbers and sit inside a glass display case waiting to be called by potential customers.

Among the evidence seized in a search of service rooms inside the building were used condoms, according to the spokesperson.

There was no mention of any involvement by Phuket City Police. Rather, the women and some of the brothel operators were taken by pick-up to the Muang District Office, where they were questioned and informed of the various infractions they had committed.

One local cable television news show showed footage of the raids last night.

Most of those taken into custody were released after paying fines, but an unspecified number of illegal “aliens” were taken to Immigration Police for processing and possible deportation.

Despite the serious nature of the charges, there was no mention of any criminal charges filed against the venue owners.

Phuket Governor Wichai Phraisa-ngop said the raids were just the first in what will be a strict and ongoing crackdown on prostitution.

According to official police statistics, there were a total of 1,588 people arrested for prostitution in 2009, up 13.3% year-on-year.

There were 225 arrests for prostitution-related charges in December 2009, just over double the figure from December 2008.

With the possible exception of the Burmese, however, it is unlikely that Sunday night’s raids will be included in official crime statistics since most of the alleged prostitutes were released without being charged.

– Hasan Che-aware
16:17 local time (GMT +7)

See original at Phuket Gazette

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