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Official at border checkpoint arrested for smuggling migrants

A fishery official assigned to a border checkpoint was arrested for smuggling three migrants from Myanmar into Muang district of this western border province on Saturday, police said.

The arrest was made when a Toyota Rivo four-door pickup, registered in Bangkok, with the logo of the Department of Fisheries on both sides, was stopped for a search at the Phu Nam Ron border checkpoint in tambon Ban Kao after it had crossed the border from Myanmar.

The checkpoint is manned by a combined team of military, police and civilian officials.

The authorities found Myanmar female migrants in the vehicle, which was driven by Wuthipong Songkol, 35, who is a fishery official assigned to the Phu Nam Ron checkpoint.

Police said Mr Wuthipong confessed to illegally transporting the three Myanmar migrants across the border.

He said he drove across the border into Myanmar to get his vehicle refuelled at a petrol station. At the station, he was asked to take the three women across the border in his vehicle and was paid 2,000 baht for transporting each of them.

Mr Wuthipong said he had done this two times previously.

The three women said they were from Yangon and had paid 20,000 baht each to brokers who promised they had secured jobs for them in Bangkok.

All were handed over to Muang police for legal proceedings. The Myanmar women were charged with illegal entry, and Mr Wuthipong with helping foreigners enter the country illegally.

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