A Thai national, Rathree Vejsuwan, was arrested earlier this month at the Thailand-Myanmar border after reportedly conducting one of the largest Burmese migrant smuggling operations for work in the central region, including the shrimp market in Samut Sakhon where the first cluster of Covid-19 cases occurred last year.
The Royal Thai Police told reporters yesterday, February 15th, that Rathree, who was also known among the network employees as ‘Jae Petch’, would act as a Thai migrant worker agency coordinator to work with Myanmar agents. Each migrant worker who wished to enter the country reportedly had to pay from 6,000-12,000 baht as an alleged entry fee.
The Myanmar agents would then issue a border pass to the migrant who would then enter through the Thailand-Myanmar border at Baan Phunamron in Kanchanaburi Province. Those who did not receive the pass would have to be smuggled and cross the border via a natural route.
Jae Petch was reportedly working with four other Burmese colleagues, who were already arrested, and would also be responsible for providing a workplace around the central region for undocumented migrants. A prominent workplace was reportedly the central shrimp market in Samut Sakhon, the epicenter of the current Covid-19 outbreak in Thailand.
According to the investigation, Jae Petch had been involved in the migrant smuggling network for at least 5 years and had also been working during the Covid-19 pandemic in Myanmar and in Thailand. Despite the current border closure, the migrant smuggling operation was still ongoing. A significant number of migrant workers received help from the network to be able to arrive and work in Thailand without Covid-19 testing or quarantines, according to Thai police.
Jae Petch is currently detained in the Bang Kwang Central Prison as she is considered to be one of the most powerful people in the illegal human trafficking business. Meanwhile, the National Thai police will work in conjunction with the Border Police to investigate and track down more people involved in this smuggling network in Thailand.
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