Australian charity workers have rescued 21 boys and girls - some as young as 12 - who were destined to be sent to work in brothels, bars and factories in Thailand's tourist areas.
Anti-child sex trafficking organisation The Grey Man, which has operatives from WA who work undercover in South East Asia, rescued the children with the help of local people from a village in northern Thailand.
The rescue, which was on Saturday though details only emerged this week, happened only a day or two before the traffickers were expected to take the children from the hill tribe village near the Thai-Burmese border to Bangkok or Pattaya where they would have been forced to work as prostitutes or in sweat shops.
The Grey Man president John Curtis said one of the boys had told rescuers that he had been "interviewed" by the owners of a gay bar in Pattaya and was due to have been picked up by them.
A 13-year-old girl told rescuers she had escaped from a brothel and was taken to a police station where she was held for two days and allegedly raped by a police officer before being returned to the brothel.
The child was in the process of being trafficked when she was rescued.
The charity was tipped off that a big group of children - 13 boys and eight girls - were being held in the village of Baan Khun Suay and would be taken to brothels and factories in southern Thailand.
All the children are now in a shelter run by The Grey Man and partner organisation Children of South East Asia. The charity workers will try to identify the children#39;s families and assist in their future care and schooling.
The Grey Man opened a Perth branch this year to recruit volunteers and field operatives from WA to help stop child exploitation and sex trafficking in South East Asia.Perth chapter co-ordinator Chanteya Macphail said it cost $1500 a year for a rescued child to be housed, educated and counselled.