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Thailand deploys “King Cobra” unit at Myanmar border to monitor illegal crossings

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Surasee troops scouting at the western Thailand. Photo/ thaiarmedforce.com.

The lifting of restrictions on Covid-19 in Thailand, which culminated with its reopening on November 1, sparked a surge in demand for foreign labor, making it very difficult to control the illegal border crossings.

To deal with it, Thailand’s “King Cobra” special unit team under the Surasee Taskforce is now actively searching for unauthorised migrants along its western border with Myanmar. Patrol is heightened in eight districts in the province of Prachuap Khiri Khan border Myanmar, which has 34 natural border passes linking the two countries.

The head of the King Cobra unit, Col Assadawut Panyarachun, claimed many jobs are attracting migrants to enter the border illegally, with a migrant paying a job broker between 18,000 and 29,000 baht to obtain entry.

He claimed that 933 Burmese migrants were arrested along the 282-kilometre-long border in Prachuap Khiri Khan between October and November this year.

The team is collaborating with the Border Patrol Police and paramilitary forces, the Immigration Bureau, Customs Department, and local governments to prevent illegal crossings into the kingdom.

Workers from neighbouring countries, for example, can only enter through specified checkpoints in Tak’s Mae Sot district, Ranong, Sa Kaeo, Nong Khai, and Mukdahan under current labor agreements.

Four companies of soldiers from the Royal Thai Armed Forces have been deployed to reinforce border patrol operations. Each group of King Cobra’s units is equipped with night vision monoculars and drones to identify border intrusion.

Authorities are also gathering intelligence from remarks made by illegal migrants who have been arrested, which might be used to guide future operations.

Many Myanmar migrants set out from Myeik intending to journey for three days across the deep jungles of the Tanaosi and Samchan mountain ranges to reach Prachuap Khiri Khan.

The King Cobra force is led by army sergeant Kittipong Boonjuban, who graduated from the Army Non-Commissioned Officer School who claimed his duty is “another means of preserving the country and its people.”

The unit has been divided into sections that will go on patrol for several days at a time. “We have no idea where we’ll sleep each night”.

The crew is accompanied by forestry officials and Border Patrol Police on their missions.

“We watch out for each other as a team.”

According to a source with the Surasee Taskforce, the crackdown is costing migrant smuggling networks a lot of money.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

 

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