The owner of a karaoke bar in Nong Khai, Thailand, has been arrested for trafficking underage girls from Laos after a sting operation conducted by Thai police.
The Immigration Office in Nong Khai, a Northeastern province bordering Laos, learned that underage girls were being trafficked at a karaoke bar in Phon Phisai District.
A sting operation was set up, during which an undercover police officer entered the premises to attempt to purchase services, according to Thai newspaper, Neawna.
Police found the bar to be closed, with the lights switched off, however, customers were inside using the services provided by the owner, 49-year-old Mr. Songkran.
According to reports, underage girls were serving drinks to customers while Mr. Songkran promoted sex with women, including minors, in exchange for a percentage of the profits.
The women were sold for 1,500 to 2,000 baht, while the bar owner would retain a share of 300 baht.
The undercover police officer made as if to purchase services from Mr. Songkran, arranging to meet with one of the underage girls at a nearby resort.
After the undercover police officer left the premises with Ms. Dao, a 15-year-old girl from Laos who was taken into police custody, police officers surrounded the karaoke bar and arrested Mr. Songkran.
He was charged with six offenses, including the trafficking of underage girls.
Three more women from Laos were also arrested at the nearby resort.
Upon investigation, it was found that the women and girls from Laos had illegally crossed the border into Thailand to find work in March this year.
The Covid-19 pandemic has caused economic hardship in many Lao communities, leading to an increase in the trafficking of Lao women and girls to neighboring countries, including Thailand and China.