Police wrap up human trafficking investigation
Thailand’s police have concluded their investigation into a case that sparked international shockwaves last May involving a human trafficking syndicate that smuggled mostly Rohingya Muslims through Kingdom. Police forwarded the results of the nine-month investigation to prosecutors to prepare for trial, a police spokesman said last week.
At the request of the police, courts have already issued 232 arrest warrants for suspects tied to the case, and investigators said they will continue pursuing leads that may lead to more arrests. The broadside of arrests is clear evidence of the current Thai administration’s commitment to fighting human trafficking. Following the orders of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha, investigators spared no one because of their affiliation or rank. Those charged include a three-star Army general and other military officers, police officers and local politicians, along with scores of civilian members of the transnational trafficking gang.
The case broke wide open and garnered international media attention in May when police discovered abandoned prison camps and graves of trafficking victims near the border with Malaysia. More camps and graves were later found inside Malaysia by that country’s authorities. The discoveries were the result of an investigation launched by the Thai police after they stopped five trucks transporting trafficked Rohingya at a checkpoint in northeastern Thailand in January.
Police General Pawin Pongsirin said the 80-strong team of investigators would submit 271,300 pages to the Office of the Attorney General. Charges of direct involvement in trafficking have been levied against 155 suspects. So far, 91 have been arrested and 62 others are still on the run. Two have died.
Money-laundering charges have also been filed against another 81 people, of whom 79 suspects received arrest warrants while two are dead. Police said they have 40 suspects in custody while 39 remain on the loose. The investigation alleged that the 81 suspects carried out money-laundering crimes related to human trafficking on at least 4,000 occasions.
The Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) said it seized $1.6 million in assets from a trafficking network in September as it sought to clamp down on the smuggling of Muslim Rohingya from Myanmar. It was the largest confiscation ever of assets belonging to human trafficking networks. The previous record seizure was in August when AMLO said it had seized bonds and land deeds totaling $1.1 million, also from Rohingya traffickers.
For more information and updates about Thailand’s policies and actions against trafficking in persons and related issues, visit www.thaianti-humantraffickingaction.org
Thailand Focus October 5th, 2015
Having trouble reading this email? View it on your browser.