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14 Cambodian traders arrested by Thai authorities for working without passports

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Cambodian migrant workers wait for transport upon returning from Thailand in March. KT

The 12th Ranger Forces Regiment, commanded by Col Akekapong Krittayakiatchuti led border authorities on an inspection of Rong Kluea market opposite the Cambodian border town of Poipet.

During the operation, 14 Cambodians working in the market without passports or entry permits were arrested.

Maj Charn Wongwaimethee, head of the 1201 Task Force, said three Cambodian men were apprehended for disguising themselves as fishermen by carrying fishing nets near a canal on the Thai-Cambodia border.

When they thought no one was looking, they threw the nets away and swam to the Thai side. The authorities patrolling the area moved in and arrested them as they were climbing out onto the canal bank.

Meanwhile in Sakeo province, a senior police sergeant major is facing criminal charges for allegedly helping to traffic foreign nationals into the kingdom in Aranyaprathet district.

Immigration Bureau commissioner Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang told a press briefing yesterday that Pol Snr Sgt Maj Lert Theparat, a squad leader attached to the provincial railway police unit, was escorted to Ban Thap Tha station by his superior yesterday, where he formally acknowledged the charges.

According to police, the suspect had earlier denied the allegations. However, the commissioner said police investigators were able to get hold of solid evidence showing he had smuggled 20 foreign nationals arrested near the border on July 3 without them having undergone a health check.

The charges were brought against the squad leader as authorities remain on high alert to catch an ever-increasing number of foreign nationals slipping across the porous borders.

Many of these foreigners are returning to Thailand to resume employment as migrant workers in light of the easing of Covid-19 restrictions in recent months.

Those entering the country illegally had paid local influential figures and officials to secure safe passage.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong said investigators were probing whether the squad leader was connected to a trafficking gang run by Petcharat Sathorn who was also arrested recently.

Pol Snr Sgt Maj Lert, who previously served as a patrol officer, may have been familiar with the geography of the border areas and also be connected to influential people who could help facilitate illegal entries. Bangkok Post

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