There were young Rohingya “victims of human trafficking” among 61 illegal migrants from Myanmar caught in Hat Yai district while en route to Malaysia, assistant police chief Pol Lt Gen Surachate Hakparn said.
Pol Lt Gen Surachate was speaking after arriving in Songkhla on Tuesday afternoon to follow up on the arrest of 61 illegal migrants on March 25 at a resort in tambon Thung Lung, Hat Yai district.
He said 39 were victims of human trafficking. They included 26 Rohingya aged 6-17 years. The 22 others were ordinary illegal migrants.
Pol Lt Gen Surachate said the ordinary illegal immigrants would be charged with illegal entry and later deported.
The human trafficking victims would undergo further questioning, to find the traffickers, state officials who might be involved and the people who guided them from Myanmar through Thailand to their intended destinations.
He said police already had information on some traffickers in Kanchanaburi who had brought 300-400 migrants into the country and kept them in waiting areas.
“The prime minister has instructed that measures be stepped up to prevent smuggling of humans across the border and drastic action taken against state officials found to be involved,” he said.
Pol Lt Gen Surachate said preventive measures must be taken, from the source of the smuggling to the destinations.
Smugglers and their agents were found to have raised their fees recently, as it was becoming more difficult, he said.