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Police charged Sawasdi Phadungchart, 27, and Sutthipong Chuaipattana, 49, with human trafficking after the pair was intercepted in Nakhon Sri Thammarat province with 98 Rohingya, many of whom were children, crammed into the back of several pickup trucks.
Three other Thais suspected of participating in the operation managed to flee before police could detain them.
Police say they believe the two men in custody have facilitated the smuggling of “nearly 400” Rohingya, a persecuted Muslim minority from western Myanmar, into Thai territories.
If found guilty, the suspects could face up to 15 years in prison.
“We have found evidence implicating major businessmen behind this operation, and we also discovered that nearly 400 Rohingya were being trafficked by these smugglers,” said Pol.Maj.Gen. Somchai Uamthanorm, deputy commander of 8th Region Police. “Ninety-eight of them were [intercepted] at Hua Sai, but the rest already slipped to Songkhla province.”
Officers from the Division of Special Investigation (DSI) arrived in Nakhon Si Thammarat province yesterday to assist with the investigation.
A DSI agent told reporters he believes “at least two businessmen” were involved in the trafficking of these Rohingya. He added that the Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) is already trying to trace the money trail of the suspected ringleaders.