PHNOM PENH, Jan 24, 2010 (AFP) - Police in Cambodia have arrested two locals and a US man after smashing a seven-year paedophile ring offering underage "virgin" girls to tourists for 3,000 dollars a night, they said Sunday.
Taxi driver Mey Sovann, 36, and his female accomplice Sek Vy, 47, were arrested Friday for providing underage girls for sexual services, said Bith Kimhong, head of Cambodia's anti-human trafficking unit.
A six-month investigation, aided by the French Police's International Technical Co-operation Delegation (SCTIP), found that since 2003, Mey Sovann had advertised underage virgin girls on the Internet for 3,000 dollars a night.
He would pick up customers from Phnom Penh airport and show them pictures, before taking them to meet the girls at a guesthouse owned by Sek Vy, according to an officer from SCTIP's Cambodia office, who asked not to be named.
Mey Sovann was arrested by undercover police at the airport in possession of the underage girls' photographs, while Sek Vy was arrested at her guesthouse in Kandal province, about 20 kilometres south of Phnom Penh.
American Carl Craig Thomas, 58, was also arrested on Saturday in the capital for sexually abusing three underage girls provided by the Cambodian pair, and for child pornography pictures he took at the guesthouse, Bith Kimhong said.
"We have arrested the man and the woman who provided underage girls. During the investigation, we found they were providing three underage girls to the US man too," Bith Kimhong told AFP.
"Now we are investigating the case further to see if they have a wider network," he added.
Cambodia has struggled to shed its reputation as a haven for paedophiles, putting dozens of foreigners in jail for child sex crimes or deporting them to face trial in their home countries since 2003.