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The 36 illegal Myanmar migrants caught in two vans, and the two Thai drivers, are arrested in Rattaphum district of Songkhla province on Thursday. The migrants were destined for jobs in Malaysia. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)

SONGKHLA: Myanmar job seekers arrested in Ratthaphum district told officials their brokerage fees had skyrocketed to 80,000 baht each, from 20,000 to 40,000 baht previously, because of the harsh crackdown on illegal migrants.

They were among the 36 illegal job seekers caught by immigration officers and local police when they stopped two vans travelling on a highway in tambon Khuha Tai of Ratthaphum district early on Thursday.

The first van, white with Samut Sakhon licence plates, was carrying 14 Myanmar nationals without travel documents. Sathaporn Phonphao, a 59-year-old Thai man, was the driver.

The second van was yellow in colour and also with Samut Sakhon licence plates. It carried 22 Myanmar nationals. Preecha Chophakakaew, 67, a Thai national, was the driver.

The two drivers told the arresting team they were being paid 20,000 baht each by a Thai man to take illegal migrant workers from a forested area in Kui Buri district of Prachuap Khiri Khan to a forested area in Bang Klam district of Songkhla. 

They told police there were three vans when their convoy left Kui Buri. One van, driven by Chakkraphong Konkhokkruad, was intercepted by highway police in Bang Saphan district of Prachuap Khiri Khan.

Mr Preecha and Mr Sathaporn allegedly said they had made many previous trips smuggling illegal migrant workers to the South. 

Their passengers were heading to Sungai Kolok district of Narathiwat, where they would illegally cross the border to Malaysia, according to police.

During questioning, the migrants said they entered Thailand via a natural border crossing in Prachuap Khiri Khan and were heading to promised jobs in Malaysia. They were to pay 80,000 baht each to job brokers, up from previous rates of 20,000 to 40,000 baht due to the drastic crackdown on illegal migrants.

They had paid 20,000 baht each in advance and would pay the remaining 60,000 baht on arrival at their  destination.  

All were taken to Rattaphum district police station for legal processing. Mr Preecha and Mr Sathaporn were charged with assisting illegal border crossers and related offences.

Myanmar migrants emerge from the white van, with the Thai driver standing beside it. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)
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Dive Deeper:
Fewest daily Covid cases since Jan 6 announced Tuesday
The country registered 6,230 new Covid-19 cases during the previous 24 hours, the third consecutive day the number declined and…
6,488 new Covid cases, 55 more deaths
There were 55 more Covid-19 fatalities and 6,488 confirmed new cases during the previous 24 hours, the Centre for Covid-19…
45 Myanmar job seekers, 3 Thais arrested
CHIANG MAI: A combined force of military and police officers arrested 45 Myanmar nationals in Omkoi district for illegal entry…
The 31 men who have been jailed for abusing women in Wales this year as attacks reach 'epidemic rates'
The list includes two men who have murdered their estranged partners
One subscription that gives you access to news from hundreds of sites
Struggling Brits should work more hours or get better paid job as prices soar, says minister
Rachel Maclean, safeguarding minister in the Home Office, said it could be a solution to cost of living crisis for…
130 illegal migrants deported from Ranong
Authorities have deported 130 illegal migrants from Myanmar who were caught earlier in Ranong, while arresting eight others in Songkhla.
Get all your news in one place