Thailand's government says it is not ignoring the prevalence of slavery and forced labor in its lucrative shrimp industry that was highlighted in an Associated Press investigation published last week.

Government spokesman Sansern Kaewkamnerd, flanked by several police and navy officials, held a news conference Monday to address issues raised by the AP report.

Sansern said the government was already aware of slavery in the industry before the AP report was released Dec. 14. "Authorities found it first," he said.

Kornchai Klaiklung, the head of the anti-human trafficking wing of the police, said "a number of things including the report about debt-bound laborers interests us and we are looking into it and will prosecute them (the culprits)."