Illegal immigrants sneak into Thailand in modified pickup truck

Police were stunned when they found two illegal immigrants squeezed under the cargo bed of a modified pickup truck in Tak province, northern Thailand, yesterday.

As KhaoSod put it, “nice idea, but illegal.”

A “spy” informed the police that two Thai men in a pickup truck were carrying illegal immigrants who had just snuck across the border from Myanmar into Thailand.

Police pulled over the pickup on the Mae Sot – Amphoe Muang Tak Road. At first glance, the vehicle looked completely ordinary. Police couldn’t find anyone in it aside from the two Thai men, who were acting as if nothing was wrong, said police.

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However, trusting the spy, the police conducted a thorough search. Police lifted a carpet to find that a hatch had been dug out of the cargo bed. Police opened the hatch to find two young Burmese women – wearing face masks – stuffed into the tiny space. They could not produce any immigration documents.

Police arrested both men who confessed to smuggling young Burmese people into the kingdom looking for work.

Other countries may consider Burmese people fleeing unrest in Myanmar as refugees. However, Thailand does not usually recognise them as such, leading many Burmese people to illegally cross over Thailand’s porous border in search of more opportunities.

Seeking status as a refugee in Thailand is notoriously hard and people who attempt it often end up stuck living in abysmal conditions at camps along the border for years on end. So, most Burmese wanting to start a new life in Thailand take the risk of illegally crossing over the border.

Police said the men will be punished according to the law.

In August, alleged spies from the Burmese junta – disguised as Buddhist monks and nuns – were among 54 Burmese people arrested at a three-storey building in Tak province. None could produce immigration documents.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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