Migrant traffickers’ ‘boss’ nabbed

Migrant traffickers' 'boss' nabbed

SONGKHLA: A woman alleged to be the leader of a major network responsible for smuggling Myanmar workers to Malaysia via Thailand has been arrested by immigration police.

Pol Col Denchai Charoenyut, chief investigator of the bureau’s Immigration Division 6, said yesterday the 53-year-old woman, identified only as Ms Palinee, alias Che Mai, was arrested on Tuesday at her home in Nonthaburi province.

Ms Palinee was the manager of a transport company in Sa Kaeo province. She allegedly coordinated the smuggling of Myanmar workers to Malaysia with brokers on the Thai-Myanmar and Thai-Malaysian borders, and helped transport the illegal migrants.

She was allegedly involved in at least seven labour-smuggling cases. Arrest warrants had been issued for 13 suspected members of the network responsible for providing transport and accommodation for the workers in the southern provinces of Surat Thani, Songkhla, Pattani and Yala.

Some have already been arrested. They include Mr Mapaosi, 43, and Mr Jessada, 28, who were close to Ms Palinee. Their surnames were withheld.

Police checked Ms Palinee’s bank accounts and found she had 21 million baht in circulation over the past six months.

Pol Col Denchai said Ms Palinee had earlier run a transport company in Sa Kaeo province. The company delivered imported goods from the border with Cambodia to inner provinces and operated a passenger service from the Cambodian border to the South.

When the border was closed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the company’s operations were affected. Ms Palinee allegedly turned to the smuggling of labour, coordinating the transport of Myanmar people who had illegally crossed into Thailand, from Prachuap Khiri Khan province to the South, and then on into Malaysia.

The illegal migrants were each charged 17,500 baht, of which 4,000 baht was to cover their transport costs from Prachuap Khiri Khan to Songkhla, 1,500 baht for food and accommodation, 2,500 baht for being taken to Narathiwat and 8,000 baht to be taken across the border into Malaysia.