Border patrols arrested 142 job seekers who illegally crossed from Myanmar into three districts of this western province over the weekend, police said.
They were arrested in eight groups at four spots – Ban Song Karia, Moo 8, in tambon Nong Lu of Sangkhla Buri district; Ban Bong Ti Lang, Moo 2, in tambon Bong Ti of Sai Yok district; and, Ban Phu Nam Ron, Moo 12, and Ban Huay Nam Khao, Moo 2, in tambon Ban Kao of Muang district.
In total, 91 men and 51 women were detained. Also arrested were 11 Thai guides, nine men and two women, who helped them cross the border illegally.
The migrants were from Mawlamyine, Yangon, Bago and Rakhine townships, and said they were destined for workplaces in Samut Sakhon, Rayong, Kanchanaburi and Bangkok.
Some had paid 15,000-20,000 baht each to job brokers while others were to make the payment on arriving at their destination.
They were arrested by patrols from the army’s Surasee Task Force and later handed over to Sangkhla Buri, Sai Yok and Muang police stations for legal proceedings, pending deportation.
The Thai guides were charged with providing help to foreigners who illegally entered the country.
Adisorn Kerdmongkol, a representative of a migrant labour development network, recently estimated that 80,000 illegal border crossers, the vast majority of them from Myanmar, were caught in Thailand last year.
As many as 100,000 more probably slipped past the authorities and were now employed in major provinces, he added.
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha last week said all parties involved should step up efforts to register workers from neighbouring countries so that they can be employed legally in Thailand, where a labour shortage is threatening the economic recovery.
The Federation of Thai Industries has said that the country faces a shortage of about 800,000 migrant workers needed for the manufacturing, service and tourism sectors.