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Officials on the hunt for corrupt border guards blamed for Covid spread

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The Thai PM, Prayut Chan-o-cha, has put the Deputy Defence Minister in charge of hunting down crooked border officials whose corruption is thought to be behind the latest Covid-19 outbreak. With most of the new infections detected in Burmese migrant workers in the central province of Samut Sakhon, it’s believed many have been smuggled into Thailand illegally, bypassing mandatory quarantine.

Now, Deputy Defence Minister Chaichan Changmongkol is hunting down corrupt officials who may have turned a blind eye to such people trafficking operations. National Police Chief Suwat Jangyodsuk says officials have received information about a people smuggling gang, which is being investigated further. Thailand has a total of 6 immigration offices and 93 checkpoints to screen those using legitimate crossings from Myanmar. However, the border is extremely porous, with many unguarded natural crossings. Officials are particularly concerned about 2 areas in the northern province of Chiang Rai, as well as the district of Mae Sot in Tak province, and 3 other points in the southern province of Ranong.

Chaowalit Sangkarit from the Royal Thai Army says the military has been cleared of any involvement in people smuggling, as the traffickers normally use boats to cross the marine border in Ranong. Meanwhile, the Royal Thai Navy says all immigrants found crossing by sea have been checked and are legal.

Speculation continues however, that people smugglers use normal border crossings, but bribe officials to allow undocumented migrants to enter. It’s thought that the PM has been provided with the names of those involved and is waiting for additional evidence before their identities are revealed.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

 

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