Local media in Pattaya are reporting a raid was conducted at 4.30 in the morning of March 8 2017. It is stated that the reason for the raid is to prevent trafficking and protect the property of foreign visitors. Police officers and volunteers participated in bringing 49 ladyboys to the police station from across Pattaya, Jomtien and surrounding locations including tourist hotspots of Walking Street, Beach Road and Soi Buakhow. It is reported that the arrested persons were loitering with intent of offering sexual services to foreigners. It is common to see ladyboys on Walking Street, often dressed elaborately with lots of makeup and costumes to attract attention to themselves. Tourists posing for photos may be pressured into giving tips for taking pictures but their activities are generally peaceful.
It is understood that some of the arrested were given spot fines for soliciting for prostitution and then released, but those who have been involved in violence or committed other offences will be further charged. It is common for freelance prostitutes to walk or stand along Beach Road ready and waiting for customers, but in some cases overly aggressive ladyboys can get into fights or attempt to steal from foreigners. In other cases foreigners who have consumed alchohol initiate the violence in which case they may be beaten and robbed by mobs of ladyboys.
It is common for the police to set up outposts along Beach Road in the evenings and night times to monitor this situation. There are also usually tourist police and volunteers stationed along Walking Street. This police presence is generally enough to maintain law and order in the entertainment zones. Police also set up traffic check points and stop vehicles to ensure that helmets are worn and to conduct breath testing for DUI. These fines apply to foreigners and Thais alike.
This latest raid by police continues the crackdown that has previously been reported on by Pattaya police and the Thai military ahead of a rumoured visit by Thai junta leader Prayuth and the Tourism Minister from Bangkok later this month to promote Pattaya as a clean tourist destination. Generally the victims of raids have been on the margins of society, e.g. transgender, illegal foreigners who are possibly trafficked persons from Africa, other foreigners from neighbouring poor countries such as Myanmar and Cambodia, and foreign bar owners. Very little seems to have been reported about arresting any Thai nationals involved in the entertainment business.
It is possible that the police are concentrating their arrest efforts on foreigners with the intention that other methods will be used to control Thai businesses in the entertainment zones such as the previously reported crackdown on hotel licensing that saw many illegally operating unlicenced hotels and guest houses being shut down until they obtain the required licences.
The eye of the law now seems to have shifted from soi6 to other areas but the focus may yet shift back and forth before a period of relative stability and peace settles in between police, bar owners and workers. Recent reports suggest that short time may again be available on soi6.