Border districts screening cars for smuggling illegal migrants

Security officers in Thailand’s 3 border districts are under strict orders to screen all cars at security checkpoints for illegal migrant smuggling. The orders come after the arrests of 3 Thais who allegedly smuggled illegal migrants into the country using their own cars, with all cases being linked to each other.

The smugglers tried to escape being detected by authorities as they used their own cars instead of the typical trucks that have historically alarmed police. One of the 3 drivers arrested was 44 year old Sasiphen Sillapachai, the wife of a tambon administration organisation official in Sangkhla Buri. 38 year old Prawit Kaewdam and 40 year old Atchara Chinsoranan were the others arrested.

Sasiphen was driving a car carrying 4 migrants when she was stopped in Thong Pha Phum on Friday. Prawit and Atchara were caught at a checkpoint in Sangkhla Buri on the same day following a search of their 2 Toyota Fortuner vehicles, one with 2 illegal migrant workers and the other with 1. All of the suspects confessed to being paid 14,000 baht each to smuggle the migrant workers.

The order applies to checkpoints in Sangkhla Buri, Thong Pha Phum and Sai Yok districts, and is focusing in particularly on the Ban Namkerk and Rantee bridge checkpoints in Sangkhla Buri.

Such smuggling of illegal migrant workers from Myanmar, where nearly 140,000 Covid-19 cases have been reported, has been blamed for setting off a 2nd wave of infections in Thailand, which has seen infections more than triple over the past five weeks since the pandemic began last year.

Smuggling gangs in Kanchanaburi and other border provinces have been aided by corrupt police, local officials and military officials who look the other way. But the Covid pandemic has forced the government of PM Prayut Chan-o-cha to admit that the country has a serious problem that must be addressed.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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