Thailand arrests 23 human traffickers

Thai police arrested 23 human traffickers during a crackdown last week in southern Thailand, dealing a serious blow to transnational criminal syndicates, as the Thai government lived up to its pledge to sustain its war on trafficking after its improved performance was recognized by the United States Department of State last month.

The traffickers who were arrested were involved in moving people from Myanmar, many of them members of the persecuted Rohingya Muslim minority, through southern Thailand and on to Malaysia. Four of those arrested as “agents” from a neighboring country who lured their countrymen to make the journey into bondage, while other criminal gangs operating in a country of destination are also participants and w ere waiting to receive trafficking victims.

“This trafficking route began from Koh Song, a Myanmar island situated near Ranong in southern Thailand. From Ranong, the trafficked persons will be taken by bus to Chumphon and Phattalung before continuing their journey to Hat Yai, a major town in southern Thailand,” said Maj. Gen. Surachet Hakpal of the Royal Thai Police.

From Hat Yai, the victims were moved to Sadao and Sungai Kolok, two border towns with official crossings and through which a large volume of goods and people move on a daily basis.

Thailand has committed itself to a national campaign to eradicate human trafficking. The achievements of that campaign, and in particular increased numbers of arrests, prosecutions and convictions of traffickers.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has elevated the fight against human trafficking to a national priority and vowed that anyone involved will not be spared from arrest and prosecution no matter their status or connections.

Police said they had been investigating activity along that trafficking route for about three months before making the arrests.

Region Nine deputy police chief Maj. Gen. Daoloi Muendech said police investigations concluded there are groups of human trafficking agents currently operating in neighboring countries and investigation also showed that at least 50 people are involved with the crime in Thailand.