Policeman held for smuggling Burmese

PHUKET TOWN: Acting on a tip-off, police today arrested 15 Burmese illegal immigrants. They also arrested three Thais who were bringing the Burmese into Phuket, one of them a police officer from Ranong. The Burmese were riding in two pick-up trucks and a car when they were stopped at 5 am, halfway between Thalang and the Heroines’ Monument, by officers of Thalang Police Station aided by Immigration Police. The drivers of the two pick-up trucks escaped. But police arrested Pol L/Cpl Narapong Pandee of Suksamran Police Station, Ranong, who was driving the car, as well as two other Thais, Somsak Promrod and Ranong Yimchom. The officers also seized the three vehicles and a walkie-talkie set. One of the pick-up trucks was subsequently found to belong to an employee of the Wachira Phuket Hospital. The car had been rented in Phuket by Narapong. This is the second time in two months that Narapong has been arrested for carrying illegal immigrants, said Pol Col Apirak Hongtong, superintendent of the Phuket Immigration Office. “He was arrested two months ago in Ranong while carrying illegal Burmese laborers towards Phuket, and he was suspended from duty, without pay. He told me that because he is not working, he needed to get some money. “Since we started getting tough on illegal Burmese laborers in Phuket, the price for getting one Burmese into the province has gone up; it is now between 4,000 and 5,000 baht.” He showed reporters a list found in the car, which detailed where the laborers were to be delivered. Six were to be dropped off at the fishing port, five in Cherng Talay, three in Patong, one each in the Ranong Rd market and Rawai, and one outside Super Cheap. Provincial Governor Pongpayome Vasaputi said, “We know that people who transport illegal laborers get good money from both the laborers themselves and from their prospective employers in Phuket. “We also know that some government officers are involved in this traffic. Once we have evidence, they will be punished. “I have written to the governors of Ranong and Phang Nga so that we can cooperate in stopping this trade.” He admitted, however, “It is hard to catch them because they come by both car and boat.” The three Thais are in custody at Thalang Police Station while the Burmese are being held in the Immigration Department cells awaiting deportation.

Phuket News
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