Ten arrested for illegal immigration scam

PHUKET AIRPORT: Two Malaysian women, a Singaporean woman and a Thai man were arrested yesterday at Phuket International Airport for involvement in an attempt to sneak six Chinese illegal immigrants out of Thailand and into Singapore. The six Chinese were also caught. Pol Lt Col Annop Suwanchatri, an immigration inspector at Phuket International Airport, said there were actually 12 people in the illegal operation but two, both Singaporean women, managed to get away. All 12 boarded flight TG 405, which flies from Bangkok to Singapore with a stop in Phuket. None of the Chinese had passports and all, according to their tickets, were supposed to get off the plane in Phuket. The six others had passports. According to their documentation they were supposed to stay on the plane in Phuket, continuing on to Singapore. While Phuket-bound passengers were leaving the plane after it landed in Phuket, the six accomplices handed their passports and their “same plane” stickers for the flight to the Chinese. The idea was that the six Chinese, now with passports, would fly on to Singapore, while the accomplices would disembark in Phuket; they would not be asked for their passports since the Bangkok-Phuket leg of the flight was not international. But, said Lt Col Annop, “Flight attendants on the plane noticed the switching. While they were waiting for the plane to be cleared for take-off, they asked the six Chinese for their tickets and passports. “None of them had a ticket for the Singapore leg of the journey, and the photos in their passports didn’t match their faces. So the airline staff brought them to us,” Col Annop told the Gazette. On their way to the airport Immigration office, the Chinese tore the photos out of the passports and tried to eat them, but were unable to swallow the plastic squares. They were persuaded to spit them out. Using the passports and photos, Immigration and Airport Police officers then combed the airport looking for the six accomplices. They found four of them hanging around the drop-off point for departures. All four confessed that they had given their passports and same-flight stickers to the Chinese. The other two could not be found. Lt Col Annop said the six were probably trying to get to countries such as Canada, Australia or the US, and were planning to use Singapore only as a transit point. The 10 people arrested are now being held at Chat Chai Port Police Station.

Phuket News
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