Police arrest Thais for alleged smuggling of Burmese refugees

Picture courtesy of Siamrath

In the district of Khun Yuam, in Mae Hong Son province, law enforcememyannt apprehended three Thai citizens who were allegedly facilitating the illegal smuggling of Burmese refugees from a temporary holding facility. The event unfolded on Thursday evening. Several of these migrants, comprising five children and five adults were discovered in the culprits’ vehicles when they were apprehended the following day.

Upon acting on intelligence that Burmese refugees had secretly left their designated shelter, local authorities and police officers organised a checkpoint along Highway 1337, located in Tambon Mae Kee. As part of their operation, they halted a pair of pick-up trucks with Chiang Mai licence plates travelling in succession and found several passengers within.

The three men involved in this operation were identified as 21 year old Sangworn, 38 year old Anai, and 54 year old Anurak. The drivers of both trucks, as well as their accomplice were Thai nationals. The remaining passengers were Burmese refugees. Six adults and four children aged between five and fourteen years old carried no documentation but demonstrated fluency in Thai, reported Bangkok Post.

According to the group’s testimonies, following the fallout of conflict within Myanmar, they sought refuge in a nearby camp located in Tambon Mae Ko, close to the border. They were en route to meet relatives situated in the Mae La Noi district of Mae Song Song.

Anai confessed to police that he intended to pick up these unauthorised Burmese refugees nearby the camp and drop them off in the vicinity of Ban Mae Kee. The migrants were then expected to arrange with their relatives for further transportation.

He further revealed that he had assisted Burmese refugees in escaping the shelter twice previously. He claimed that he was contacted by the refugees, who were got his contact information because he was a known contributor of relief supplies to the centre.

The three men were subsequently charged for their active role in shielding unlawful Burmese refugees from arrest, law enforcement authorities reported. It is believed that this could potentially be connected to a larger criminal network.

Thailand News

Neill Fronde

Neill is a journalist from the United States with 10+ years broadcasting experience and national news and magazine publications. He graduated with a degree in journalism and communications from the University of California and has been living in Thailand since 2014.

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