Illegal migrants say job brokerage fees soaring
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.