17 beggars, traffickers arrested

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Seventeen alleged human traffickers and their victims were detained for begging illegally on the streets of Pattaya.

A task force of immigration, human trafficking and tourist police joined social workers in the March 22 sweep of Walking Street, Beach and Second roads and local markets that netted 10 Cambodian children, their parents and handlers, and alleged agents.

DNA tests were conducted on all detained to determine if the children caught with their “mothers” were, in fact, related. Police said several of the beggars had been arrested and deported previously, but returned with rented children to elicit pity from Pattaya tourists.

All the beggars were charged with immigration offenses and will be deported while those suspected of bringing them into the country will be tried on human-trafficking charges, authorities said.

Police said the success of the sweep was the result of new integrated work between police, social workers, child-care centers and government authorities. While some suspects are repeat offenders, their networks are now known and will be prevented from operating here again, they said.

Police warned the public about giving money to street beggars, noting most of them are not related to the children they hold and are either participants in, or victims of, trafficking gangs.

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