BANGKOK — Immigration police said Friday they arrested a human trafficker who coerced children into selling roses to foreign tourists on Phuket island, and beating them when they failed to meet a quota.
Immigration police deputy chief Pornchai Kuntee said the suspect is a 24-year-old Cambodian national who allegedly kidnapped two Cambodian children from their parents, and then forced them to sell roses and other goods to tourists in the red light district of Patong.
The children must work from 8am to 9pm everyday and make at least 2,000 baht in profit at the end of the day, or they would be subject to beatings, Maj. Gen. Pornchai said. The money was pocketed by the traffickers, and the kids were then jailed at a house in Patong when they were off work.
The suspect, identified as Kim Hang, was charged with several offenses including human trafficking, illegal detention of minors, and forcing minors to work.
Maj. Gen. Pornchai added that police are seeking to locate and arrest three other Cambodians in the same ring.
Children selling flowers to foreign tourists remains a common sight in backpacker areas, such as Khaosan Road in Bangkok despite its association with human trafficking.