Minors rescued in Phuket raids

Minors rescued in Phuket raids

PHUKET: A Cambodian man and a Thai woman were detained and 17 minors believed to be Cambodian and Vietnamese nationals were rescued in anti-human trafficking raids carried out at four spots in Patong area of Krathu district on Sunday.

Ngo Sun, 33, the Cambodian suspect, and Suphattra Charoensuk, 22, the Thai suspect, were charged with human trafficking and making others perform forced labour.

The minors were brought into the custody of Phuket's shelter for children, where authorities will screen them to determine who voluntarily came as illegal migrants and who were trafficked into the country, said a source.

The raids came after a victim of a human trafficking and forced labour gang who managed to escape to Bangkok several months ago sought the help of the Anti-Trafficking in Persons Division, said Pol Lt Gen Jaruwat Waisaya, an assistant to the national police chief.

"Using the information acquired from the escaped victim, authorities began tracking the gang members' movements," he said.

According to Pol Lt Gen Jaruwat, some victims were lured into forced labour in Phuket, while several had "voluntarily worked" with at least four human trafficking gangs which had them wandering around Patong, begging money from tourists or selling sunglasses or garlands on the street.

"These children, some of who were less than 15 years old, were forced to work from midday until midnight every day without a day off," he said.

"Some of them didn't get paid at all and all they were given were meals and a place to sleep in rented houses.

"Those who failed to bring back 3,000 baht a day were regularly whipped with a clothes hanger or beaten," he said.

According to investigators, the children's parents were actually paid by traffickers who essentially "bought" the right to employ them as hawkers in Phuket. Many were even told that their children would have an easy job in Thailand which pays about 5,000 baht a month.

These traffickers would then take the the children into Thailand via unmarked border crossings, police said.

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