Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy commissioner of the Tourist Police Bureau, right, looks at a police chart featuring online child sex networks during a media briefing on Tuesday. (Photo by Tourist Police Bureau)
Eight suspects, including a well-known university lecturer and a probation official, have been arrested for buying online sex services from underage boys, but senior figures asked that their names not be disclosed, said a police commander.
The suspects were caught on court warrants for supporting the flesh trade and depriving boys aged below 18 of parental care, said Pol Maj Gen Kornchai Khlaikhlueng, commander of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division (ATPD), during a media briefing on Tuesday.
Pol Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, deputy chief of the Tourist Police Bureau and senior police officers, were also present.
ATPD investigators have pressed charges against the eight suspects and sent them to the Criminal Court. They were granted bail on a bond of 300,000 baht each.
Pol Maj Gen Kornchai said the customers included celebrities and university lecturers or officials, but the names would not be disclosed.
Several phuyai (senior figures) had phoned him and asked that a media conference not be held for fear the names of the customers would be made public, he said.
“One suspect works at an organisation overseeing legal officials and another teaches other people. Both have wives and children, but they abused underprivileged children,’’ said Pol Maj Gen Kornchai.
Earlier, a combined team of police and officials from the ATPD, the Tourist Police Bureau, the Ministry of Social Development and Human Security, and non-governmental organisations jointly launched a crackdown on online sex networks providing services by boys aged below 18.
The operation led to the arrest of Namphon Somngam, alias New, 27. He was allegedly an agent and owner of “Rak Dek’’ (Love children) Line chat group.
Mr Namphon has been charged with human trafficking by procuring boys aged not more than 18 into the fresh trade and disseminating child pornography into the computer system for gains.
Police took him to the Criminal Court last week and opposed his bail, said Pol Maj Gen Kornchai.
Pol Col Khomkrit Sukthai, of the ATPD, said Mr Namphon used to work as a manager of a convenience store in Bangkok before quitting the job.
The suspect, who police say is also a paedophile, then opened a Facebook account “Namphon Somngam’’ to accept members who liked to watch child porn chips with a membership fee of 300 baht each. The suspect later created the Line chat group “Rak Dek’’ for these members.
The man charged membership fees of over 500 baht for viewing porn clips of boys. Those who wanted to have sex with them would be charged 1,500 baht each and Mr Namphon would deduct 500 baht for his brokerage fees, said Pol Col Khomkrit.
His arrest led to the rescue of seven boys, aged between 12-16, who later identified the customers, said Pol Maj Gen Kornchai.
A source said two of the eight customers caught for buying sex services from boys were a well-known lecturer at a university in Nakhon Pathom and the other was an official attached to the Probation Department.