BANGKOK (AFP): Almost 60,000 people were arrested in the first three months of the ongoing crackdown on Bangkok’s after-hours nightspots, brothels and gambling dens, police said today. Thai police spokesman Pongsapat Pongcharoen said the crackdown had resulted in 24,867 cases involving 58,894 people. Some 8,621 people were caught betting in Thailand’s huge underground lottery while 540 people were busted for gambling illegally on football matches, according to police. Another 789 people were arrested for operating illegal nightclubs and 443 for keeping bars and nightclubs open past closing hours. Pongsapat added that 3,498 people were arrested for procuring women for prostitution and 343 for producing pornographic material. The social order campaign launched in August by Interior Minister Purachai Piemsombun has sparked an uproar among bar owners, taxi drivers and others dependent on late-night trade. The Minister initially launched a crackdown on nightclub closing-hours in a bid to curb an epidemic of drug abuse and underage drinking among Thai youngsters. It was later extended to clamp down on other illicit activities. Despite the anger of those in the “after-hours” industry, opinion polls show the campaign has the backing of a majority of voters. Last month, Purachai also proposed new restrictions on young people, including a 10 pm curfew for Thais under the age of 18 and tougher enforcement of laws prohibiting minors from buying alcohol and cigarettes.
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