Monday, July 16, 2012

Police break up Yakuza sex racket | Bangkok Post: news

Source:  Bangkok Post: news

 16/07/2012 at 01:59 AM

Police have smashed a local flesh trade racket supplying Thai women to Yakuza gangsters for forced prostitution in Japan, acting with the help of Japanese police.
The May 10 arrest of Jakraphan Watcharapin on charges of luring several women into prostitution came slightly less than a year after Japanese police raided a karaoke bar in a city in Nagano prefecture, rescuing three Thai women.
The Anti-Human Trafficking Division (AHTD) said the July 8 raid last year on the bar in Matsumoto resulted in the arrest of several suspects.
Those arrested include Yakuza gang members, as well as a Thai woman who allegedly ran the bar as a front for a brothel. The woman, Orachorn Hayashi, was charged with forcing three Thai women, aged between 31 and 32, to provide sex services to her clients.
The women who were rescued from the bar were later sent home to Thailand. They then helped provide the AHTD with information about how the gang in Japan was linked with another gang operating in Thailand.
AHTD chief Chawalit Sawaengphuech said Mr Jakraphan and four other suspects had organised a trip for Thai women to go to Japan, where Ms Orachorn picked them up at the airport and took them to her bar.
The AHTD also found out later that Ms Orachorn was actually Mr Jakraphan's wife, but that her husband had arranged for her to register a marriage with Yoshio Hatashi, a Yakuza gang member, so she could establish the karaoke bar in Japan.
"I wanted the investigation into this case to be a perfect example of cracking down on human trafficking gangs," Pol Lt Gen Chawalit said.
"Some of our investigators travelled to Japan to set up a joint effort with the Japanese police."
Pol Lt Gen Chawalit was one of the AHTD investigators who travelled to Japan for the case.
The AHTD investigators brought home a wealth of evidence which helped the secondary probe into the human trafficking gang in Thailand, he said.
Japanese police were initially not convinced Mr Hatashi was involved in this human trafficking case.
However, AHTD police had sufficient evidence to seek the arrest of the Japanese man in connection with the gang, Pol Lt Gen Chawalit said.
Police said Mr Jakraphan tricked women into believing he would secure them jobs waiting on tables at a restaurant in Japan, promising them a salary of about 30,000 baht a month for the job.
But before they could go to Japan to pursue their employment there, those women were made to pay between 70,000 to 2.5 million baht, which Mr Jakraphan said was the cost of the trip and the restaurant job placement service, according to police.
"The suspect [Mr Jakraphan] would tell his potential victims that they could repay their debts later when working in Japan," Pol Lt Gen Chawalit said.
"Yet in reality, their passports were taken away and they were forced to sleep with customers immediately after landing in Japan."
The victims were told the lives of their families in Thailand would be in grave danger if they tried to run away.
The three women were forced to sell sex in Japan for more than three months before they were rescued from the karaoke shop.
Without the Japanese police raid, the women could have been taken on a flesh trade tour to other cities of Japan, which was how the Yakuza gang usually operated, Pol Lt Gen Chawalit said.
The AHTD is now considering seeking arrest warrants against three more Thai suspects as well as two other suspects who are in Japan.
One Japanese suspect is Mr Hatashi and the other suspect is a Japanese woman who is also a Yakuza gang member, Pol Lt Gen Chawalit said.
Although Thailand and Japan do not have a formal treaty on deporting criminal suspects to and from the two countries, they do have good informal cooperation in this regard, he said.
"As the investigation into this case is intended to be a case study, we are aiming to uproot the entire human trafficking racket with the help of Japan," he said.
The suspects will face money laundering charges in addition to the human trafficking charges, he said.

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