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Former school director arrested for procuring schoolgirls

Police show their arrest warrant to suspect Uthai Asaphanom, 67, in Roi Et on Wednesday.

Police have arrested a retired school director accused of procuring schoolgirls for a prostitution ring whose customers included local officials and politicians in Kalasin province.

Uthai Asaphanom, 67, was arrested in Roi Et on Wednesday, said Pol Maj Gen Saruti Khwaengsopha, commander of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division of the Royal Thai Police.

He had been sought on three arrest warrants for charges related to procurement of young women for prostitution. The crimes were committed while he worked as a volunteer at the Probation Department in Kalasin after his retirement as a school director in the province.

Investigators said the suspect was linked to a gang run by Supinya Pimcha-oom, 26, said to have been the biggest procurer of girl prostitutes in Kalasin. She was arrested in March for allegedly advertising young women aged 15-18 via Twitter and the Line chat application.

Police said they had also arrested 13 alleged clients of Mr Uthai. They included a mayor, a hospital official and former school directors.

Pol Maj Gen Saruti said Mr Uthai procured about 30 girls aged between 13 and 17 for prostitution at his house in Muang district of Kalasin.

Some of the girls told police that they had to give Mr Uthai 200 to 300 baht of their earnings for each sexual service performed. Some said they did the work because they wanted money for online gambling, according to the commander.

Mr Uthai denied all the charges while police said they planned to arrest more clients. The suspects are government officials and local politicians who were close to the suspect, Pol Maj Gen Saruti said.

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