BANGKOK — Malee Laoyang deported by Japanese immigration authorities Friday has been arrested on charges of human trafficking and coercing young women into prostitution in both Japan and Thailand, the Royal Thai Police said Saturday.
Malee Laoyang, 31, from Chiang Mai Province, was arrested May 17 in Saitama Prefecture and detained for overstaying her visa. Police later charged her with human trafficking but she was deported to face trial in Thailand instead.
Authorities in Japan suspect Malee, who was previously married to a Japanese man, of being part of a human-trafficking racket in the Kanto region.
A 25-year-old Thai woman from Phayao Province who was rescued by Thai Embassy officials in June after being forced to work as a prostitute at a karaoke bar in Tochigi Prefecture accused Malee of luring her into prostitution, according to the head of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division of the Royal Thai Police.
The woman, whose identity was withheld, said she was told she would earn between 70,000 and 100,000 baht (about ¥180,000 to ¥260,000) a month as a waitress at a snack or karaoke bar in Japan, but was subsequently made to work as a prostitute to pay off a 2.7 million baht (¥7 million) debt, apparently to those who got her into the country and employed her.
The chief of the Anti-Human Trafficking Division said the woman was initially sent to work at a karaoke bar in Gunma Prefecture and was eventually sold to the bar in Tochigi.
Malee has admitted that she arranged for the woman to travel to Japan and find work but denies forcing her into prostitution, according to Thai police.
At a news conference, a weeping Malee said she knew about the first karaoke bar the woman worked at but not the second one in Gunma. She faces up to 20 years in prison and a maximum fine of 240,000 baht (¥620,000) if convicted.
Thai police are currently trying to locate the agents in Chiang Mai Province who introduced the 25-year-old woman to Malee.