Job-seekers said they paid broker between B13,000 and B20,000 each
Fifty-nine Myanmar nationals, including two boys, were arrested for illegal entry in Sangkhla Buri district on Saturday, while a compatriot who guided them across the border fled.
A team of soldiers, local police and volunteers hiked into the foothills of Ban Thikhrong mountain in tambon Prangphol on Saturday after a local informant reported seeing a group of people hiding there.
After a tough trek through thick bamboo forests, the team found a group of people hiding there but one man ran away upon seeing the officers, said Col Chalermphol Sangtong, deputy commander of the Lat Ya military task force.
The group consisted of 30 men, 27 women and two boys. All looked exhausted and hungry.
Officers provided them with food and drinking water before taking them in vehicles to the Rantee bridge checkpoint for body temperature checks as part of Covid-19 health screening.
All had normal temperatures. They were later taken to Sangkhla Buri Hospital for thorough health screening.
During questioning, the migrants said they had contacted a job broker in their home country to help take them get work in Thailand. They were told to gather in Payatongsu district, near the Thai border, on Thursday.
On Saturday morning, a Myanmar guide was sent to lead them across the border along a natural path to avoid security checkpoints.
They arrived in a forested area in the foothills to wait for a vehicle to pick them up, but they were caught. The guide managed to flee.
The migrants were destined for workplaces in Sa Kaeo, Surat Thani, Ratchaburi, Mahachai and Om Noi in Samut Sakhon, Pak Nam in Samut Prakan, and Bang Pakong in Chachoengsao.
They said they paid the broker between 13,000 and 20,000 baht each, depending on the distance to their destination.
All were taken to the Sangkhla Buri police station for processing before being handed over to immigration officers for deportation