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Suspects held in Rohingya smuggling

Seven suspects have been detained in raids carried out in five provinces as part of the expansion of an investigation into a key Rohingya smuggling network, police said on Wednesday.

The raids were launched early on Monday in Tak, Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Narathiwat and Nakhon Si Thammarat, said Pol Maj Gen Atchayon Kraithong, deputy commissioner of the Immigration Bureau.

Three suspects detained in Mae Sot district of Tak were identified as Natthakon Isman, Nopphawat Chinda and Wichet Suksi, he said, adding Mr Nopphawat was a former police officer who was fired from the force in 2012.

Another suspect detained in Bangkok was Siriphon Buaphim, wife of a Myanmar national, Babu Zami, previously detained in connection with a Jan 3 raid on a house in Don Muang district where 19 illegal Rohingya migrants were found hiding.

Seven of the 19 Rohingya migrants later tested positive for Covid-19, which resulted in a number of immigration police handling the migrants being quarantined for possible Covid-19 infection, he said.

An investigation later found these illegal migrants had travelled from Myanmar’s Rakhine state and entered Thailand through a natural trail in Mae Sot district of Tak with the help of both Thai and Myanmar nationals in a smuggling network, he said.

Detained in three raids in Nakhon Si Thammarat on Monday were two Myanmar nationals identified as Lamor and Mo Mo Tui, said Pol Maj Gen Atchayon. Five vehicles were also seized.

A woman identified as Jeh Da, a key person in the human smuggling network, was also taken in. She was found to have between 10 million baht and 20 million baht in her bank accounts, he said. The police were expanding their investigation to track the money trail of the gang to find out who else are also involved, he said. Since early this month, 266 illegal migrants have been caught while attempting to enter Thailand illegally, while 16 other suspects who were found to have assisted them were also detained and prosecuted, he said. Most of the illegal crossings were reported along the border in Kanchanaburi, he said.

National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk said six police have been prosecuted in criminal cases and 49 faced disciplinary action for involvement in migrant smuggling since 2015.


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