Two Government Officials Surrender in Child Sex Trafficking Case

On Monday, two officers turned themselves in after it was discovered they were allegedly involved in child sex trafficking.

Suwat Phaophan, a Surat Thani Shelter for Children and Families official, was found to be implicated in the case. Department of Children and Youth’s deputy director-general Phisit Poonpipat, 55, reportedly spoke with several children at the shelter and persuaded them to provide sexual services.

Both surrendered to police on Monday. The pair was linked to a sex trafficking ring in November last year after police teams raided 18 locations across Surat Thani. Since then, other people have been implicated in the case, including soldiers, doctors, and teachers.

Surat Thani Shelter for Children and Families chief filed a lawsuit against Mr. Phisit and Mr. Suwat, claiming that the children had been injured and he had been threatened for disclosing information that could lead to further arrests.

The pair’s crimes were revealed between December and February after Mr. Phisit reportedly attempted to interfere with the police investigation and ordered the shelter’s chief to hamper victims’ and customers’ identification process. Mr. Suwat, 33, also raised suspicions as he physically punished children who cooperated with police officers.

Mr. Phisit has been charged with obstruction of justice, and Mr. Suwat faces the same charge and another count of duress for physical abuse.

National Police’s assistant chief Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn said another 48-year-old man, Saengroj “Uan” Kanchana, also faces charges of interfering with an abuse investigation. The case involves two girls aged 17 from the Muang Surat Thani area and five children aged 13-15 in the Khun Thale area.

Mr. Saengroj, son of local politician Chumpol Kanchana, had already been charged for allegedly having sexual intercourse with a 15-year-old girl who was not his wife. He was also accused of taking away a minor from their guardian for sexual purposes, Pol Lt Gen Surachate added.

According to police reports, Mr. Saengroj will remain in custody at Surat Thani Provincial Court until trial due to concerns about potential interference in the investigation.

Mr. Phisit and Mr. Suwat voluntarily surrendered before being summoned for their malfeasances. Therefore, both should be released without any surety after the inquiry.