The Immigration Bureau (IB) has arrested at least 20 Chinese nationals smuggled into the country from Cambodia over the last few month while en route to Myanmar to work for call-centre gangs.
Questioning revealed they were working for Chinese operated gangs and were transferring their centre of operations to Myanmar.
Immigration Bureau commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Pakphumpipat Sajjaphan, and his deputy, Pol Maj Gen Phanthana Nutchanart said on Monday that that the Chinese operators were moving their compatriots and also Thai nationals to Myanmar following crackdowns in Cambodia.
Five Thai nationals and 20 Chinese nationals were arrested between March and August in Mukdahan, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Ayutthaya and Nong Khai provinces. All of them were headed to Mae Sot district of Tak, a province, which borders Myanmar.
Three Chinese nationals captured in Kalasin told police that they had been tricked into working in Myanmar. Their route had included Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, said Pol Lt Gen Pakphumpipat.
The smuggling of call-centre workers has since shifted to routes which do not pass through Thai territory as the operators were now aware police were on to them.
Pol Maj Gen Phanthana said some victims were recruited as interpreters or bar workers but ended up working for call-centre gangs, while others were aware of the illegal nature of their employment.
He said crackdowns in Cambodia have led to gangs relocating to Laos and Myanmar.
“The IB was working worked with the Highway Police, ️Police Cyber Task Force and Anti-Human Trafficking Centre on the issue,” said Pol Maj Gen Phanthana.
Pol Maj Gen Phanthana added that the smuggling by Chinese gangs of their compatriots and people from Southeast Asia to work in illegal enterprises was a ongoing problem.
He said more than 100 call-centre workers used to be arrested per day, however, that number has dropped to a few dozen recently.