Senior Thai policeman turns himself in to face underage sex charge

A high-ranking police officer accused of buying the services of an underage prostitute turned himself in yesterday as local authorities in Mae Hong Son stepped up surveillance of human trafficking and vice in the province.

According to Mae Hong Son police station superintendent Satasak Pimolthip, Chai Prakan police station deputy superintendent Pol Lt Col Mongkol Panti had acknowledged sexual involvement with a girl younger than 15.

It was reported that after Mongkol was told the allegation against him, police conducted a brief interrogation before releasing him. He is alleged to have bought sex from the young girl brought by prostitute provider Kwanhatai Ruekudom, who has already been arrested for human trafficking.

Mongkol is accused of having sex with the girl in his home in Mae Hong Son while he worked in the province.

Officials in Mae Hong Son have been trying to repair the province's damaged reputation after a large human trafficking and sex network was exposed there. Steps are being taken to avoid similar activity in the future.

Mae Hong Son district chief Phisit Bunkitanan said that local authorities held a meeting with local businesses, hotels and restaurants to discuss prevention of human trafficking. More than 50 representatives attended.

"We need to urgently solve this chronic problem [human trafficking] since it has already made headlines nationwide and harmed the reputation of the province," Phisit said.

On Friday night, the Mae Hong Son Provincial Social Development and Human Security Office and local authorities led a team to inspect businesses in Pai, another famous tourist attraction.