BANGKOK (The Nation/Asia News Network): In an expansive sting operation, police netted several suspects believed to be involved in two human-trafficking cases – one getting Thais illegal jobs in Cambodia and the other involving Rohingya refugees in Malaysia.
Former Immigration Police chief Pol Lt-General Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn, who has been reinstated as assistant police chief, and deputy police chief Pol General Roy Inkapairo jointly made the announcement on Friday (Oct 22).
Suspects Ubolrat Puttapraisakul and Li Tianfong were arrested on Thursday in Chiang Mai’s Fang and Wiang Haeng districts respectively for allegedly tricking Thais into taking up jobs at an illegal “romance” call-centre in Sihanoukville.
Additional evidence led to the issuing of arrest warrants for 10 suspects, including four Chinese nationals, four Cambodians and two Thais.
Roy said Cambodian police have rescued some 20 victims and moved them to a safe house until they can be returned to Thailand.
He said the victims had answered ads placed on social media and Line offering people who can speak English high-paying jobs in Cambodia. The victims were also persuaded to make investments.
However, when the victims realised they had been scammed and wanted to return, they were quietened down with threats of violence. Eventually, one victim managed to send out a call for rescue on social media.
Police also tracked down another human-trafficking suspect who goes by the name Jaepa Lapidi. This man is linked to a human-trafficking network in Malaysia and reportedly fled across the border to Thailand in 2015.
He and eight Thai nationals are wanted for a crime committed in 2015 in Malaysia.
Investigators believe this group trafficked and detained Rohingya refugees in Malaysia’s Perlis state, and even whipped many of the victims to death. Malaysian police say they found 30 graves near the so-called detention area in Wang Kelian in Perlis.
Surachate said police are investigating to see if this case may be linked to the human-trafficking ring run by former Army adviser Lt-General Manas Kongpan, who died in prison earlier this year.
It is believed that traffickers transported Rohingya refugees from Myanmar through Thailand to other neighbouring countries.
As for the other eight suspects, police say they travel frequently to neighbouring countries and will be caught soon.
The police are also cooperating with the Anti-Money Laundering Office to keep track of shady transactions.