More allegations of wrongdoings by the owners and staff of Nataree Massage Parlor were unearthed yesterday as it was discovered that many of the illegally-working female masseuses carried blue cards in their wallets with lions or eagles on them.
It is thought that these cards were for protection, meant to show to local Huay Kwang police to prove that a bribe had been paid on their behalf. Many of the women were illegal workers that were allegedly performing sex work or may have been trafficked.
The massage parlor was raided last Tuesday by the Interior Ministry and the police. They moved in on the large, famous massage parlor after reports of human trafficking were made to the police by a non-governmental organization. They detained 121 women, several were under 18 years old and 77 were foreign nationals.
An anonymous source told The Nation, “These masseuses carried a blue card with an emblem of a lion on it. They have said they paid THB1,000 a month to get such a card for immunity against any arrest or harassment by state officials.”
This source also noted the card could only be used with local Huay Khwang police and that not all of the cards were the same, possibly indicating which agency or person had collected the bribe.
The investigation is ongoing and a book discovered at the parlor indicated alleged payoffs to everyone from low-ranking local cops to large organizations listed in the book with names such as “Immigration.”
The investigation aims to uncover whether or not underage prostitution, bribery and human trafficking were taking place at Nataree. So far, five high-ranking police officers have been placed on inactive duty, pending further investigation.
They are: Metropolitan Police Division 1 commander Maj. Gen. Wichanwat Borirakkul; Kittiphong Wisetsa-nguan, the Huay Khwang station chief; Satsak Chaiprasert, deputy station chief; Chiraphol Praphanchan, police inspector for the criminal investigation unit and Suphaphat Sawatdi, a police inspector in charge of crime suppression, according to Bangkok Post.
Social Development and Human Security Minister Adul Sangsingkeo said that at least one Thai and eight Myanmar nationals were definite human trafficking victims while a dozen others were listed as “probable” trafficking victims.
From a legal perspective, the women that willingly engaged in sex work will be prosecuted. The underaged girls and victims of human trafficking will be sent to Kredtrakarn Protection and Occupational Development Center, according to the Department of Provincial Administration.
Acting metropolitan police commissioner Sanit Mahathavorn said that the Interior Ministry will decide if the massage parlor should be permanently closed. The owner is to be charged with running a prostitution venue, procurement, opening a premises to the sex trade and involvement in human trafficking.
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