174 of 525 rescued Thais 'trafficked'
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174 of 525 rescued Thais 'trafficked'

Authorities have verified the identities of over 500 Thai citizens who were rescued from scam gangs in Laukkaing, north Myanmar, between November and December, saying 174 were victims of human trafficking.

The finding was reported to deputy national police chief, Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn, during a teleconference attended by senior police based in Chiang Rai on Wednesday evening.

Chiang Rai police commander, Pol Maj Gen Manop Senakul, said that in total, 525 Thais were rescued from Laukkaing between Nov 18 and Dec 15. Most were repatriated through China, due to the conflict between armed ethnic rebels and the junta in Myanmar, but some were brought home via the Thai-Myanmar border crossing in Mae Sai district.

After questioning those repatriated from Laukkaing, authorities concluded that 174 were actually human trafficking victims, Pol Maj Gen Manop said, adding they were lured by the scammers with the promise of high wages.

Initially, they were told they would be working as administrators for an online gambling website, but in reality, they were forced to work as scammers targeting Thai citizens.

They were told that they had to pay 200,000-700,000 baht if they wanted to leave, he said.

Pol Gen Surachate said authorities were still trying to figure out how the rest ended up in Myanmar.

However, he said that out of the 525 people brought back to Thailand, 20 were wanted by law enforcement agencies.

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