Police in Thailand announced Wednesday that they had arrested 78 people this month – mostly Thais – who were suspected of smuggling in more than 260 migrant workers from Myanmar and other neighboring countries.
The crackdown on suspected traffickers of migrant workers came on orders from Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-o-cha last month, amid a wave of coronavirus infections, Police Gen. Suwat Changyodsuk, the national police chief, said at a news conference. Authorities had blamed the surge in COVID-19 cases on migrants who had entered the country illegally via the kingdom’s shuttered borders.
“The operations are focused on trafficking rings – brokers and their masterminds – who smuggle illegal workers in or out. We are not focused on suppressing the illegal workers because the government has a clear policy on bringing some of them into the labor system and letting them work,” Suwat said.
The arrests were made from five trafficking rings, between Jan. 1 and Jan. 25, and consisted mostly of Thais and a handful of people from Myanmar, Gen. Damrongsak Kittiprapat, Suwat’s deputy, said.
Police used surveillance cameras equipped with license plate- and face-recognition technology to detect traffickers traveling on the border roads, Suwat said.
The popular routes used by traffickers run from the border district of Mae Sot in Tak province, about 480 kilometers (298 miles) northwest of Bangkok, all the way to the Thai-Malaysian frontier in the insurgency-torn Deep South, he added.
Full story: BenarNews
Wilawan Watcharasakwet and Mariyam Ahmad
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