Immigration Bureau chief Sompong Chingduang said yesterday that a probe has been launched into a suspected surrogacy ring after a Chinese woman was arrested at Suvarnabhumi airport for trying to leave the country with an 11-month-old infant using a fake birth certificate.
The woman, Fan Fang, 49, was arrested by immigration police on Wednesday afternoon before boarding a Sichuan Airlines flight to Chengdu in southwest China with the baby.
She claimed to be the mother and that the father was a Chinese man who had already left Thailand.
Pol Lt Gen Chingduang said he has instructed Immigration Division 2, which has jurisdiction over Suvarnabhumi airport, to expand the investigation to determine if the woman is involved in an illegal surrogacy network.
He said the woman was not cooperative during questioning.
Pol Maj Gen Weerapol Charoensiri, commander of Immigration Division 2, said immigration officials had examined the baby’s birth certificate and found it to be fake.
He said immigration authorities also had a record of Ms Fang unsuccessfully trying to leave the country with a baby before but was prevented from doing so because of incomplete documentation.
She was handed over to Suvarnabhumi police later on Wednesday and initially charged with falsifying a document and trying to use it, Pol Maj Gen Charoensiri said.
He said the Immigration Bureau chief had earlier ordered the tightening of checks on foreign passengers with babies.
Last year, the number of foreign nationals especially Chinese people leaving Thailand with babies came to more than 500, which immigration officials thought was unusually high, he said.
Surrogacy is permitted in Thailand but such activities must comply with the Protection of Children Born by Assisted Reproductive Technology in Medical Science Act.
Under the law, couples seeking to have a child through surrogacy must be Thai.
If one of them is not, they must have been married for more than three years and the whole process must be administered by a certified clinic.
In February, three surrogacy agents and four Thai surrogate mothers were arrested in a series of raids on 10 locations for their alleged involvement in an illegal transnational surrogacy network operating in and around Bangkok.
According to police, the network used social media to recruit Thais as surrogate mothers, paying them more than 500,000 baht each.
The masterminds avoided detection in Thailand for many years by setting up a cleaning company as a front, police said.