Temple tears: Police bust child-begging gang, investigate trafficking ties in Thailand

Picture courtesy of KhaoSod.

A sweep operation led by the Satthahip police force has resulted in the apprehension of an alleged gang exploiting children for begging activities during a temple event. The police are investigating potential human trafficking links, focusing on the relationship between the adults claiming to be parents and the children involved.

At 10.30pm yesterday, Panya Damlek, the head of Satthahip Police Station in Chon Buri province, received reports of a large number of beggars, both Thai and foreign, present during an event at Satthahip temple. Ranging from young children to elderly individuals, some with physical disabilities, their conspicuous presence raised concerns among locals and tourists, potentially tarnishing Thailand’s image.

Panya ordered Suwichak Reungnaumdee, the deputy head of the police station, to investigate, resulting in the detention of eight people. The group consisted of three Cambodian children, two Cambodian adults, and three Thais. They were taken to Satthahip Police Station for further investigation, reported KhaoSod.

Panya revealed that the beggars, aged between 18 and 60 years old, had children aged between two and 10 years old accompanying them at various begging spots. A Thai man was spotted keeping watch within the temple premises where the group had set up tents for accommodation.

“Considering the circumstances, we suspect it could be a human trafficking operation.”

No legal entry documents were found on the apprehended Cambodians. Panya added that the police will collaborate with related agencies and the Chon Buri Provincial Office of Social Development and Human Security to identify the victims and determine if they fall under the category of human trafficking.

“We will also investigate the relationship between the adults claiming to be parents and the children to ascertain if they’re genuinely related. If not, it could constitute human trafficking, involving the exploitation of individuals for begging or similar activities.”

An additional investigation will be carried out to further prosecute the case.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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