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Human smuggling suspects arrested in Ranong

Legacy Phuket Gazette

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PHUKET CITY: Immigration Police in the early hours of Saturday arrested 34 illegal Burmese immigrants and two Thais in a raid on a house in Ranong’s Muang District, seizing notebooks listing the names of members of security forces who had allegedly been bribed to secure safe passage for the migrants.

At 4am, a team of Ranong Immigration Police led by Chief Inspector Nachathakrit Pinpak and supported by army soldiers arrived at a house in Tambon Bang Rin belonging to Khongsak Aduldechakul, suspected of involvement in human smuggling.

Immigration Police received intelligence that the house was being used as a way-station for migrants being taken to find work further South.

Outside the house, they found two pickup trucks with 34 Burmese packed inside.

At another house nearby, police arrested Mr Khongsak and seized a 9mm pistol with 48 rounds of ammunition. They also confiscated drug paraphernalia.

Mr Khongsak and his wife Wilailak confessed that they had helped Burmese immigrants to illegally enter Thailand. At the time of their arrest they were preparing to drive the two trucks to Phang Nga and Phuket, police said.

Scores of unregistered Burmese work openly in labor camps and rubber plantations in Phuket, but getting them here from the border is a cat-and-mouse game with officials who have jurisdiction over the various districts through which they must pass en route to the resort island.

The extent of the smuggling racket made international headlines in April last year, when 54 Burmese suffocated to death in the back of a truck while on their way to Phuket.

A migrant arrested in the raid, 25-year-old Mu Mo Saw, said that she was on the way to Phuket when arrested. She had paid 10,000 baht to a Burmese agent in Kawthaung to be taken to Phuket, she said.

The couple were charged with aiding and abetting illegal immigrants, then sent to Ranong Hospital to be tested for drugs before being handed over to Ranong police.

At the time of writing, results of the drug tests were not available.

Lt Chalermphol Thehopakan, commander of the soldiers who allegedly served as backup in the operation, said the couple were the leaders of a large human smuggling network based in Ranong.

“In Mr Khongsak’s house we found notebooks containing names and contact details for members of the network and schedules for when workers would be smuggled to other provinces. [The notebooks also contained] a list of names of officers that Mr Khongsak had paid to secure safe passage. The list clearly stated the names of officers of all levels, from NCOs to senior officers. The books will be passed on to the relevant authorities for further investigation,” Lt Chalermphol said.

Ranong Immigration Police have now passed the notebooks on to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI) for follow up.

A southern regional police spokesperson said his office had not yet received a report of the incident, but would take decisive action if evidence emerged that officers in the region had been involved.

A source in the security forces said that Mr Khongsak’s network was the 12th largest of 15 major people smuggling networks known to be operating out of Ranong.

The network moved around 500 migrants a month to provinces around the South. The network had been operating for more than 10 years and had been able to avoid closure as Mr Khongsak had links with officers at every level of the security forces, the source said.

The source did not reveal what led to Mr Khongsak finally being arrested.

The arrested migrants were taken to Ranong Immigration to be charged and deported.

— Kom Chad Luek

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

Business

Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub

Maya Taylor

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Approval sought for multi-billion-baht Phuket medical hub | The Thaiger
Mai Khao beach in north Phuket - PHOTO: www.makemytrip.com

Industry officials are seeking the go-ahead for a project to transform over 140 rai of government land in Phuket into a world-leading medical hub. The project is budgeted at 3 – 4 billion baht, depending on which report you read. Kitkong Tantijaraswarodom, from the Federation of Thai Industries, believes the development of a medical and wellness hub in the sub-district of Mai Khao, north Phuket, will help revive the southern island’s battered economy. Phuket has become increasingly reliant on a steady flow of tourists over the past 2 decades.

The southern division of the FTI covers Phuket, Krabi, Phang Nga, Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Patthalung, Surat Thani, Ranong, Satun, Chumphon, and Songkhla.

“The FTI will ask the government to green-light the project during the scheduled mobile cabinet meeting on the island on November 3.”

Kitkong says businesspeople in the south are anxious for the government to approve the project, which will provide both locals and foreign medical tourists with state-of-the-art medical care. The facility is expected to include long-term care, hospice and rehabilitation services, in addition to a dental hospital, sports therapy centre, and a medical training school for doctors, nurses, pharmacists and medical laboratory scientists.

The chair of the FTI’s southern chapter is also calling on officials to provide small and medium-sized businesses with additional support, in the form of access to loans, in order to deal with cash shortages.

“In the short term, the FTI wants the government to help SMEs, especially those in the tourism sector.”

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Phuket

Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment

The Thaiger

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Man’s body discovered hanged in a Phuket Town apartment | The Thaiger

A man has been found hanged in Phuket Town apartment yesterday. Police are treating the cases as a suicide at the moment.

The man was found hanged from the apartment’s ceiling fan. His lifeless body was discovered around 11am after neighbours complained to the manager about the smell coming from the man’s room.

Police and the local Kusoldharm Foundation rescue workers attended the scene. Police later confirmed the incident happened in room on the 3rd floor of an apartment lock in Soi Phoonphol Soi 1, Talat Nuea in Phuket Town. Police said the man was 35-45 years of age and had a 29 year old girlfriend from Chumphon. He was paying 1,000 baht a month and had been renting the room for 2 months. Police estimate that the man had been dead for at least 3 days.

Police told media that the man had used, what appeared to be a dress, tied around his neck and then to the room’s roof fan. The apartment manager told police that he had been late on on his recent rent, speculating that the man may have been suffering financial hardship.

The man’s identity has not been released at this stage.

His body was taken to Vachira Hospital for an autopsy.

If you or anyone you know is in emotional distress, please contact the Samaritans of Thailand 24-hour hotline: 02 713 6791 (English), 02 713 6793 (Thai) or the Thai Mental Health Hotline at 1323 (Thai).

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Tourism

Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule

The Thaiger

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Bangkok Airways add 3 new local routes to their schedule | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Bangkok Airways' ATR72, servicing the re-introduced routes

Some domestic routes are being added as local routes continue to expand. This time Bangkok Airways has announced it’s resuming its Samui-Phuket, Phuket-Hat Yai and Phuket-Pattaya/Rayong (U-Tapao) flights.

The first additions to the schedule will be the Phuket-Samui flights resuming this Sunday, October 25, and the Phuket-Pattaya flights start again next Tuesday, October 27. The Phuket-Samui flights will be operating on Sundays and Wednesdays only on the airlines’ ATR72 turbo prop regional planes, same as before.

A casual search on the Bangkok Airways website, for a return flight from Phuket to Samui on November 1, then back to Phuket on November 8 indicates the cheapest fare (promo) is 2,430 baht. Coming back, the cheapest fare we found, again labelled ‘promo’, was 2,630 baht. Bangkok Airways operate as a “full service” airline and don’t compete with the country’s discount airlines. But they operate these three routes exclusively – like it or leave it.

Bangkok Airways say that the flights will be operated “with the highest preventive measures and standards”. Around the country the Civil Aviation Authority of Thailand have eased a few of the onboard restrictions, including the start of catering services which were originally banned under the initial flight rules when domestic routes started flying again at the start of July.

The daily direct services between Phuket and Hat Yai are also being operated on the ATR72 aircraft. The flight to Ha Yai leaves Phuket at 8.40am and arrives at Hat Yai at 9:.45am. The return flights leave Hat Yai back to Phuket at 10.25am each day. The route was very popular for the airline before the ‘disruption’ when airlines had their fleets grounded in April.

The service between Phuket and U-Tapao, linking the party city with the party island, will operate on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays, again with the ATR72. Phuket to U-Tapao will leave at 12.10pm and then from U-Tapao to Phuket at 4pm on the three days. U-Tapao is about a 50 minute drive from Pattaya and the airport also serves the greater Rayong area.

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