KANCHANABURI: Three Thais driving separate vehicles were arrested and a total of seven illegal migrants taken into custody at road checkpoints on Friday, as smugglers turn to using small vehicles to bring in a few workers at a time.
Job brokers awaiting delivery of the illegal workers were also arrested.
Officers manning a checkpoint at Thong Pha Phum intersection in Thong Pha Phum district stopped a white Toyota Yaris car with Kanchanaburi plates for a search.
The car was driven by a woman, Sasiphen Sillapachai, 44, of tambon Nong Lu in Sangkhla Buri district. Inside were four Myanmar nationals - a 43-year-old man, two women, aged 33 and 17, and a 9-year-old boy. All were illegal migrants.
Ms Sasiphen confessed to taking them from Sangkhla Buri district to meet job brokers at a pavilion in front of Robinson department store in Muang district. The brokers supplied migrants to employers in Bangkok, she told police.
The job brokers were later also arrested, but police gave no details.
Police said Ms Sasiphen was the wife of a tambon administration organisation official in Sangkhla Buri district. She had a gem trading business in the border district, and a tourism business in Myanmar’s Phyathonzu border town. (continues below)
Two Toyota Fortuners are stopped for a search at a checkpoint in Sangkhla Buri district. Two illegal Myanmar migrants were found hiding in one vehicle, and a third in the second vehicle. The two Thai drivers were arrested. (Photo: Piyarat Chongcharoen)
Also on Friday, police, soldiers and local officials manning a road checkpoint at Rantee bridge in tambon Laiwor of Sangkhla Buri district stopped two Toyota Fortuners with Kanchanburi licence plates.
Officers initially saw five Thai passengers sitting in the first vehicle, driven by Prawit Kaewdam, 38, of Sangkhla Buri district. A closer check revealed two illegal Myanmar migrants, women aged 30 and 18, hiding in the back.
Mr Prawit confessed he was smuggling them from Phra Chedi Sam Ong village, or Three Pagodas, in Sangkhla Buri district to Bangkok, where a job was waiting for them.
A search of the second vehicle, driven by Atchara Chinsoranan, 40, of Ratchaburi province, uncovered a 42-year-old Myanmar man hiding under a blanket in the third row of passenger seats.
Ms Atchara told police the man was a former employee. She had picked him up at a market in Sangkhla Buri and taking him to work at her shop in Ratchaburi.
Officials checked the temperatures of all occupants of the three vehicles. All were below 37.5°C. They were handed over to police at Thong Pha Phum and Sangkhla Buri districts.
An official at the checkpoint said smugglers had switched to using personal vehicles to bring in a few illegal workers each time, instead of using vans or trucks carrying many of them.