Border action to stem illegal migrant influx

Border action to stem illegal migrant influx

Officials warned as patrols stepped up

Illegal Myanmar migrants are arrested in Kanchanaburi province. (Photo: Piyarat Chongcharoen)
Illegal Myanmar migrants are arrested in Kanchanaburi province. (Photo: Piyarat Chongcharoen)

Security authorities are stepping up efforts to prevent the illegal entry of people from Myanmar into western Thailand via Kanchanaburi province, warning that any state officials found to be involved in human trafficking will face severe punishment.

Defence Ministry spokesman, Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, said on Tuesday that Thai authorities had obtained information suggesting a looming influx of people from Myanmar after the rainy season via this route due to the growing instability at home.

As a result, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has emphasised that soldiers and police must ramp up their efforts at the Thai-Myanmar border. Any suspected migrant workers caught trying to make their way in along this western border will be immediately deported, Gen Kongcheep said.

He said the prime minister also called for stepped up border patrols and clarified that strong legal action would be taken against anyone involved with trafficking networks, especially state officials.

"If they are implicated, police will arrest them and seize their assets. State officials would face disciplinary and criminal punishment and be removed from office," he said.

Some 457 migrant workers from Myanmar were arrested during a crackdown from Oct 18-25 along with one trafficker from the country and and four Thais.

The migrants told police they each paid 20,000 baht for safe passage across the border, bringing the total sum paid to just over 9 million baht.

Most were heading for Samut Sakhon, Chonburi, Ratchaburi, Rayong, Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Ayutthaya and Bangkok to find jobs, they said.

In Kanchanaburi, the arrest of another 71 Myanmar nationals who illegally crossed into Sai Yok district on Monday raised the number caught in one day in the district to 260. More were expected to follow.

Police said the fourth group of job seekers, 36 men and 35 women, were nabbed by a joint police-military patrol at about 5pm near Phu Phaya, or Moo 4 village, in tambon Si Mongkhon. The group had entered via a natural border crossing.

They hailed from Dawei, Bago and Mawlumyine townships in Myanmar -- having paid 17,000-20,000 baht each to brokers for jobs in Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Nakhon Pathom, Saraburi, Chon Buri and Kanchanaburi. They will all be deported, police said.

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