Chiang Rai crackdown reveals human trafficking and drug abuse in lounges

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An operation by the Department of Provincial Administration led to a crackdown on two infamous lounges in the heart of Chiang Rai‘s Mae Sai district believed to be involved in human trafficking, drug dealing, and exploitation of underage workers. This was following a tip-off by international human rights organisations.

Officers discovered nine individuals who tested positive for drugs and apprehended underage workers, the youngest being only 15 years old.

Under the leadership of Ronnarong Thepiri, an official investigator, the special unit managed to successfully infiltrate and take control of the two establishments located in Wiang Pang Kham, Mae Sai. The report from the human rights organisations indicated that these lounges were employing underage women, both Thai and foreign nationals, who may have been sexually exploited and using drugs.

Upon inspection, it was found that both lounges were operating without the necessary official service establishment license as mandated by the Service Establishment Act B.E. 2509. Further, they were serving alcoholic beverages beyond the permitted hours. Traces of illicit drugs were found in the VIP rooms, and 21 female and 15 male employees were present in both lounges.

Among the female employees, six were confirmed to be below 18 years old, with the youngest being 15 years old. These underage girls were required to cater to and look after customers, a duty that potentially involved the sexual exploitation of minors, effectively making it a case of human trafficking, reported KhaoSod

While checking the urine samples of the employees, drugs were detected in four individuals. Among the patrons, five tested positive, contributing to a total of nine drug users in the lounge. It was also uncovered that two patrons below the legal age of 20 years were making use of the service, aged 17 and 18 respectively.

In the initial stage, the special unit officers took significant steps to ensure the safety of the six underage individuals and moved the potential victims of human trafficking into the National Referral Mechanism. This process involved interviews, screenings, and differentiating of victims by a professional multidisciplinary team.

Consequently, the administration officials will propose the order for a five-year closure of the two lounges known as ‘Ozone’ and ‘Single’ to the governor of Chiang Rai.

Crime NewsNorthern Thailand News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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