Twenty-six Burmese migrants were arrested on Thursday morning near the Malaysian border in Sadao district, Songkhla province. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)
SONGKHLA: Twenty-six illegal migrants from Myanmar heading for promised work in Malaysia, after borrowing up to 50,000 baht to pay job brokers, were arrested on Thursday morning near the southern border in Sadao district.
A patrol of soldiers, border patrol and local police spotted a group of men and women in the forest near the new Sadao customs checkpoint at Moo 7 village of tambon Samnak Kham at around 4:30 a.m.
The group tried to flee as the patrol approached them, but all were rounded up and arrested, said Colonel Thanitphon Hongwilai, commander of an army task force.
There were 17 men and nine women, and all had entered Thailand illegally from Myanmar. They were taken to Sadao police station for questioning and screening for Covid-19.
They told police through an interpreter that they had traveled from Dawei, Rakhine and other townships in Myanmar and were on their way to jobs in Malaysia. They left on May 19 and crossed the border on foot into Prachuap Khiri Khan province on May 21. They hid in a wooded area.
On Wednesday, two vans sent by the job broker arrived to take them to the Malaysian border in Sadao district. They were waiting for someone to guide them over the border when they were caught.
They said they had to pay around 50,000 baht each to the job broker. Most of them had to borrow money. Some were promised jobs in timber factories in Malaysia, while others did not know where they would work. They all need work to pay off their debts.
Arrested job seekers in Myanmar board a police van, which takes them to Sadao police station in Songkhla for questioning. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)