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Thai authorities say they have seized more than 200 million baht in assets from a network of alleged human traffickers operating in southern Thailand.
The assets, worth approximately 204 million baht, were seized from suspects in Ranong, Satul, and Nakhon Si Thammarat provinces this week, said Pol.Gen. Aek Angsananont, deputy chief of Royal Thai Police.
Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is currently looking for any evidence that links the assets to human trafficking operations in the region.
After discovering a detention camp and mass grave of Rohingya refugees in the jungle near the Thai-Malysian border on 1 May, Thai authorities have launched an unprecedented crackdown on the well-established human smuggling operation in the region.
Over the past two weeks, four more large camps and at least 70 smaller sites have been found in the mountainous border region. Police believe the camps were used by brokers to detain Rohingya refugees to extort ransom from their families before smuggling them into Malaysia.
Sixty-one arrest warrants have been issued in connection with the trafficking network since the beginning of the month, said Pol.Maj.Gen. Paween Pongsirin, deputy commander of Eighth Region Police. Twenty-six people have been arrested so far, with the latest suspect surrendering to police this morning.
Several of the suspects are local Thai officials, including the mayor of Songkhla’s Padang Besar district, where many of the camps are located. Police say the ringleader of the regional trafficking network is Patchuban Angchotipan, aka Ko Tong, a former local administrative official and resort owner in Satul province who is still on the run.
Since the crackdown, security officers have encountered at least 276 refugees in Thailand who were left to fend for themselves after they were reportedly abandoned by their brokers. Police have identified 63 of the refugees as victims of human trafficking. Police have also detained four suspected traffickers who posed as refugees.
Full Story – Khaosod English