Three groups of foreign nationals from Laos and China have been arrested for illegal entry by immigration police in Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.
Immigration Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang said over 20 people had been arrested after Chinese gangs hired Thais to arrange illegal crossings.
The Chinese, who mostly run entertainment businesses in Myanmar and Laos, fled to Thailand to escape Myanmar’s COVID-19 outbreak and growing political unrest, he said.
The first 17 people, 10 of them Chinese, were apprehended in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai and belong to a gang bringing Chinese people into Thailand illegally, according to Pol Lt Gen Chingduang.
The first 9 were caught outside a school in the Chiang Rai district of Thoeng. Police then apprehended 8 more from the same gang as they were travelling through Chiang Mai to Mae Hong Son.
In the second group, officers from the bureau tracked down a Thai man in the Chiang Rai district of Chiang Saen as he was driving 3 Chinese nationals to Sa Kaeo. The Chinese, who did not have passports with them, had entered the country illegally on a boat from Laos, said Pol Lt Gen Chingduang.
The driver told police the gang leader was paying him 15,000 baht per trip to transport the Chinese. Shortly after that, the gang leader, who is a Thai, was also arrested in Chiang Rai.
In the third group, 2 Lao citizens were detained for bringing 2 Chinese nationals into the country illegally onboard a long-tail boat. The Laotians owned the boat, which shuttled the 2 Chinese across the Mekong River to a pier in Ban Pak Hang Wiang, Chiang Saen district. the commissioner said.
Also in the boat were three Thais, who were also arrested.