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Police bust alleged illegal surrogacy ring, Thai women allegedly gave birth for overseas buyers

Caitlin Ashworth



Stock photo by free stocks

An alleged illegal transnational surrogacy ring, posed as a cleaning company, was busted by Thailand’s cybercrime police after surrogate mothers were unable to deliver the children to buyers overseas due to travel restrictions during the coronavirus pandemic, investigators say.

Officers from the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau raided 10 locations suspected of being involved in the underground transnational surrogacy network, arresting 3 alleged agents and 4 Thai women who are believed to be surrogate mothers.

Officers also found 2 infants, 6 months old and 8 months old, in the raids. The bureau partnered with the Department of Special Investigation, as well as other agencies including the US Embassy in Thailand, for the investigation.

Thai women were lured into the illegal surrogacy network through social media and were paid more than 500,000 baht each to bear children for parents overseas, according to the bureau’s commissioner Kornchai Klayklueng. By posing as a cleaning company, the surrogacy network managed to operate in Thailand for a number of years.

Thai women would travel to Cambodia for an embryo transfer and then return to Thailand where they would stay until they gave birth, Kornchai says. The babies would then be given to parents overseas.

The investigation was launched after a woman, believed to be a surrogate mother involved in the illegal network, gave birth to a premature baby with multiple health problems including a brain haemorrhage. Investigators say they discovered many other Thai women had travelled abroad for an embryo transfer.

The suspects face charges for violating the Protection of Children Born by Assisted Reproductive Technology in Medical Science Act and the Anti-Participation in Transnational Organised Crime Act.

Last year, another alleged illegal surrogacy ring was busted and a umber of Thai and Chinese nationals were arrested. The network allegedly used Thai women to carry babies for Chinese couples. A Thai doctor was also arrested on charges of human trafficking.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post


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  1. Avatar


    Monday, February 8, 2021 at 12:11 am

    What about the citizenship of the baby? How are the babies smuggled out of Thailand without the complicity of immigration police? How do you register the baby in a foreign country without the necessary official adoption documents? Maybe I am naive but, as we are more and more “digitized” and “tracked”, how can the kid be raised normally, get a passport, access to health care and education? Oh I forget he can become a “dreamer” in the US.

    • Avatar

      Leo Z

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 4:10 am

      Surrogacy is illegal in China. As the other linked article noted, a ring for Chinese clients was busted in 2020. Basically China exporting, among other things, crime as well.

      • Avatar

        James Pate

        Monday, February 8, 2021 at 4:23 am

        Illegal in Cambodia, too. Cambodia banned surrogacy business shortly after Thailand. Last time I checked, it’s still unregulated in Laos.

    • Avatar

      James Pate

      Monday, February 8, 2021 at 4:52 am

      The “plan” would be for the birth mother to sign over any legal rights to the child upon birth to the “customers “, at least to the father, the biological parent (in most cases). Thus, no adoption. This business was totally unregulated in Thailand until 2014, when 3 high profile cases shocked the public: Baby Gammy case (Australian father was a convicted pedophile), Baby Carmen case (Father was US citizen but resident of Spain) and, the many cases of Mitsutoki Shigeta (All babies issued Japanese passports.) Would be no need to be a Dreamer if at least 1 of the legal (and, most likely, biological) parents is a US citizen. Have a look at what happened in 2014 and you’ll see how it used to be done, the public outrage that ensued and, how and why this industry is banned and IVF tightly regulated in Thailand. This is what happens when technology outpaces the law and the law has to run to catch up.

    • Avatar

      Amy Sukwan

      Friday, February 12, 2021 at 8:10 pm

      I hate to be racist here, but in a true surrogacy, the father’s sperm and the mother’s egg are implanted into the Thai woman, i.e. the surrogate, whose body then hosts the baby. So the said baby would come out looking like it was the biological child of the parents, who in most cases aren’t going to look Thai at all. So a white Australian couple, say, is going to have a white baby that looks like theirs at immigration checkpoints. Would these people need to grease a few fingers? Probably. But really can’t the say infertile wife just tell everybody including friends and family that she finally got pregnant and decided to give birth to her baby in Thailand? The story would work on a lot of people…until Covid border closures came along…

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Caitlin Ashworth is a writer from the United States who has lived in Thailand since 2018. She graduated from the University of South Florida St. Petersburg with a bachelor’s degree in journalism and media studies in 2016. She was a reporter for the Daily Hampshire Gazette In Massachusetts. She also interned at the Richmond Times-Dispatch in Virginia and Sarasota Herald-Tribune in Florida.

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