BANGKOK (Reuters) - Thailand has arrested five people suspected of trafficking Thai women into sex slavery in China and believed to be part of a ring that has also trafficked women into Malaysia and Singapore, Thai police said on Tuesday.
The arrests come a week after the United States kept Thailand on its list of worst human-trafficking centers. The Thai government has said it hopes the U.S. will removed it from the blacklist following a crackdown.
"Thailand is determined to tackle and eliminate human trafficking," Thai Police Chief Somyot Pumpanmuang told reporters on Tuesday.
Thailand in July indicted 72 people, including 15 state officials, over suspected links to human trafficking after what Thai police described as their biggest ever investigation into the crime.
Chinese and Thai authorities worked together on the latest case after a Thai woman escaped her captors in Chongqing in China, Somyot said. The woman told Chinese police that she and three others were forced to have sex with men after being lured to China with the promise of jobs as hostesses through a modeling website.
Thai police arrested four women and a man and had issued warrants for another four suspects, Somyot said. Chinese authorities had also arrested two Chinese nationals suspected of being part of the trafficking ring, the Thai police said in a statement.
Police suspect more than twenty women were trafficked by this ring, said Police Major General Thiti Saengswang, the commander of Thailand's Anti-Human Trafficking Division.
(Reporting by Juarawee Kittisilpa; Writing by Simon Webb; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)