Police seek first warrants over outbreak

Police seek first warrants over outbreak

20 officers linked to people smuggling

Police are seeking arrest warrants against eight civilians suspected of being involved in the smuggling of illegal Myanmar labourers into Samut Sakhon province where the reemergence of Covid-19 on Thai soil first struck, according to deputy national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas.

In addition, an investigation will be initially be launched into 20 police officers suspected of being complicit in the crime, which has been pinpointed as cause of the outbreak.

"After tracing the migrant workers' route into Samut Sakhon and then jobs at its shrimp market, we found that most received direct assistance from more than 20 police officials and eight civilians," deputy national police chief Pol Gen Damrongsak told media at a press briefing about the investigation yesterday.

"They smuggled the workers across the border in Sangkhla Buri district of Kanchanaburi and then provided transport to get them to Samut Sakhon," he said citing the police preliminary's investigation.

The civilian suspects will face charges of aiding and abetting illegal immigration while the 20 police officials have already been suspended from their duties pending a full investigation.

"A formal fact-finding procedure will be carried out before both disciplinary and legal action is pursued against them," he said.

The new committee will be comprised mainly of police inspectors and be headed by the assistant national police commander, he said.

This committee will also work together with, and supply information to, the government's own committee formed on Thursday to look into police involvement in migrant smuggling, he said.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has emphasised to national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk that the force must proceed with this investigation in a straightforward and honest manner, said Pol Gen Damrongsak.

A source close to the probe said the exact number of police officers found to be involved in this migrant smuggling ring was 25.

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