Nine men, one a retired teacher, have been charged with paying for sex with underage girls, as part of a police operation against child sexual exploitation in Kalasin province.
One of the suspects surrendered to police and another was already being held on drug charges at Kalasin provincial prison. The seven others were arrested separately in Kalasin.
Police from the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD) apprehended the suspects in the northeastern province on Tuesday. They were wanted on arrest warrants issued by the Criminal Court for enticing girls aged under 18 into lewd activity, regardless of whether consent was given, and depriving girls aged 15 to 18 years of parental care for commercial and sexual purposes.
The nine suspects were identified only as Uthai, 68, a retired teacher; Jirapong, 37; Changwat, 48, Thongchai, 60, Thotsaphon, 49; Surachai, 45; Apirak, 38; Sarayut, 37; and Krisanat, 44.
Pol Maj Gen Wiwat Khamchamnan, ATPD commander, said the arrests followed earlier arrests in Kalasin of people involved in human trafficking. Police then extended the investigation leading to the nine arrests. One of them surrendered to police at ATPD sub-division 3 and another one was being held at Kalasin provincial prison, he said.
Pol Col Manoon Kaewkam, superintendent of ATPD sub-division 3, said most of the suspects denied the charges. They insisted they had not bought sexual services from those girls, and had been wrongly implicated.
One of them had been arrested in possession of 4,000 methamphetamine pills in June. The man had allegedly threatened a girl, warning her not to implicate him in the sexual abuse case, Pol Col Manoon said.