Police Arrest Traffickers Smuggling Chinese Nationals Headed For Chiang Mai

Sompong Chingduang

Suspected migrant traffickers were arrested in Tak yesterday as they brought in 5 Chinese nationals from Myanmar’s Myawaddy town.

Col Natthakorn Ruantib, deputy chief of staff of Naresuan Task Force, was leading police officers and soldiers during a patrol in Mae Ramat district yesterday when they found five Chinese nationals – 4 men and 1 woman – brought in by Phakoe Natheesaithan, deputy village head in the district, and three other men.

The media said the task force found suspicious vehicles on the edge of a forest behind a village and saw that two pickup trucks had no licence plates. All the suspects were taken to be tested for COVID-19 at a hospital.

According to investigators, one suspect said they were hired to smuggle Chinese nationals from the Myanmar border in Mae Sot district at 12,000 baht per trip.

The investigators noted that the Chinese nationals travelled at night through various routes using GPS to avoid law enforcement officers.

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When faced with a checkpoint, the suspects planned to make the Chinese nationals walk to avoid inspection, according to the investigation.

Investigators said the Chinese nationals previously worked with an online gambling host in Myawaddy town before they were smuggled by the suspects, noting the group was heading to their next destination, Chiang Mai.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang, commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, yesterday inspected border security in Kanchanaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan and Phetchaburi.

Officials are worried that people from Myanmar could flock into Thailand after the coup on Monday.

Pol Lt Gen Chingduang and police officers have visited western border provinces to ensure that Myanmar migrants do not sneak into the country.

He said border checkpoints are closed due to COVID-19 and work permits for migrants in Thailand have been granted, so border security must be strict to prevent illegal entry.

Meanwhile, a contingency plan must be prepared in case of unrest in Myanmar, he said.

According to the inspection result, Kanchanaburi has seven natural corridors often used by migrants and smugglers.

The authorities are preparing for the arrival of up to 400,000 Myanmar migrants planning to enter Thailand. The bounty for migrant traffickers is worth 15,000 baht per head, while Chinese traffickers are worth 50,000 baht each.

Pol Lt Gen Chingduang said he has deployed provincial police officers, border patrol police and soldiers to monitor the situation.

Officials in Kanchanaburi’s Sangkhla Buri district on Thursday found 26 Myanmar migrants hiding in a rubber plantation while patrolling along the border.

The migrants had no contraband nor identification documents.

They said they came from Ye and Mawlamyine in Myanmar and walked through a natural corridor before passing through the forest to hide, waiting for their agent to pick them up and deliver them to their employers.

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