Hot! American NGO Operation Underground Railroad Arresting Sex Tourists in Thailand

Operation Underground Railroad, anti-child trafficking organization, promoted by the movie “Sound of Freedom”, has begun operations in Thailand. Operation Underground Railroad, aka OUR has announced its grand opening in Thailand with a web page and a Facebook page publicizing its activities in Thailand.

OUR has, in cooperation with Thailand police,  rescued six underage girls, including those under 15, in raids of a bar and a hotel on Patong Beach.   Based on reports, foreigners were arrested for sex crimes and the bar owners are also being investigated for violations that include the Foreign Business Act.

According to Thailand Criminal Law, having sexual relations with a minor under 16 years of age violates Section 277 of the Thailand Criminal Code, which is punishable by a prison term of 5-20 years.  However, there is a trend for Western countries to extend their law enforcement activities to criminal acts committed outside of their jurisdiction. The US Protect Act criminalizes US citizens and permanent residents who travel abroad, or conspire to travel abroad,  to have sex with minors under 18. Penalties are severe and include up to 30 years in prison. 

Based on their websites, and the movie Sound of Freedom, Operation Underground Railroad is promoting itself as rescuing prepubescent children from sexual predators.  However, OUR’s work in Thailand, based on news reports, seems to be focusing on physically mature females, working in bars, who are nevertheless, technically, underage.

As criminal defense attorneys in Thailand since 2001, in our experience most foreigners are unaware of the laws that criminalize certain sexual activities in Thailand.  Many tourists are also unaware that their conduct in Thailand may violate not only Thailand law, but also US law, or the law of their home country.  Additionally, most tourists do not realize that there are private organizations such as Operation Underground Railroad, that are conducting undercover investigations, aiming at foreign sex tourists,  in places like Patong, Pattaya and Bangkok.

 

Credit photo by: Aleksandr Zykov

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