Eight more sus­pects sought in wombs-for-hire scan­dal


The Anti-Traf­fick­ing in Per­sons Divi­sion is seek­ing ar­rest war­rants for an ad­di­tional eight sus­pects in an il­le­gal transna­tional com­mer­cial sur­ro­gacy ring busted on Thurs­day, said Pol Maj Gen Wo­rawat Wat­nakhon­ban­cha, chief of the divi­sion yes­ter­day.

Two of the new sus­pects are Chi­nese na­tion­als and the rest are Thais, he added.

“Two Chi­nese sus­pects were hired to take sur­ro­gate moth­ers to give birth in an­other coun­try, while the Thai sus­pects bro­kered sur­ro­gacy and ar­ranged travel doc­u­ments for the sur­ro­gate moth­ers,” Pol Maj Gen Wo­rawat told me­dia in a press brief­ing yes­ter­day.

On Thurs­day, nine sus­pects — six Thais and three Chi­nese na­tion­als — were ar­rested in joint raids car­ried out in Bangkok, Pathum Thani and Sukhothai.

The raids came af­ter a po­lice in­ves­ti­ga­tion found a gang of Chi­nese na­tion­als was hir­ing Thai women as sur­ro­gate moth­ers.

The il­le­gal sur­ro­gacy op­er­a­tion is be­lieved to have started in 2012.

Po­lice dis­cov­ered the sur­ro­gacy syn­di­cate was op­er­ated by Chi­nese people who hired Thai bro­kers to lure Thai women to work as sur­ro­gate moth­ers for 300,000-450,000 baht per preg­nancy.

The sur­ro­gate moth­ers re­port­edly trav­elled to neigh­bour­ing coun­tries for as­sisted re­pro­duc­tive treatment and re­turned to Thai­land where they stayed un­til de­liv­ery.

In some cases, the sur­ro­gate moth­ers were sent to China, where they stayed un­til they gave birth.

The three ar­rested Chi­nese sus­pects de­nied any wrong­do­ing and in­sisted on their claims that they were in Thai­land for a test tube baby ser­vice, said Maj Gen Wo­rawat.

An­other sus­pect — a Chi­nese na­tional who was be­lieved to be in­volved in the same sur­ro­gacy gang, was ar­rested on April 30 last year and is now be­ing de­tained in a for­eign coun­try.

Po­lice, how­ever, in­sist they have ev­i­dence to have the sus­pect pros­e­cuted for in­volve­ment in the transna­tional sur­ro­gacy gang.

The three Thais were charged for col­lud­ing with a transna­tional crim­i­nal as­so­ci­a­tion, ar­rang­ing il­le­gal com­mer­cial sur­ro­gacy and ad­ver­tis­ing an il­le­gal sur­ro­gacy bro­ker ser­vice.

All seven sur­ro­gate moth­ers ar­rested on Thurs­day have yet to be charged and are cur­rently un­der the care of the So­cial De­vel­op­ment and Hu­man Se­cu­rity Min­istry.

Some of the ar­rested sur­ro­gate moth­ers will likely be treated as wit­nesses in the on­go­ing in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

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