Thai man and Myanmar crew paid to take 65 Rohingya to third country via Thailand

A Thai man and his five Myanmar crewmen, who have been in custody since Tuesday pending investigation for human trafficking after the recent arrival of 65 Rohingya from Bangladesh, have told Thai police that they were paid 100,000 baht to smuggle the Rohingya to a third country, possibly Malaysia.

The alleged confession by Mr. Sangkhom Papun, a resident of Thailand’s southern province of Ranong, and the five Myanmar crew from the damaged fishing boat, prompted the Thai government to send army and police units to conduct extensive searches of islands in the Andaman sea and mountainous areas in the southern provinces of Satun and Songkhla, which are used by human trafficking gangs to shelter Rohingya after they are smuggled into Thailand.

The search of the mountainous area in Tambon Pooyoo in Satun uncovered five abandoned shelters, but there were no traces of current human occupation.

Meanwhile, the search of mountainous terrain in Tambon Ban Phru, in the Hat Yai district of Songkhla province, by a police team led by Pol Gen Suchart Thirasawat, the police inspector-general, failed to find any trace of Rohingya.

The 65 Rohingya undocumented migrants are being held on Rawi Island, where their boat anchored on Tuesday. They have been given medical checkups and are being taken care of in accordance with international humanitarian practices.

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