Nine more people wanted on human-trafficking charges have been apprehended, bringing the number of detained suspects to 43, with 34 still on the run, Thai police said.
Pol Maj-Gen Puthichart Ekachan, deputy commissioner of the Region 9 Provincial Police Bureau, said at a press conference on Thursday that four of the nine surrendered while the other five were arrested on warrants.
The surrendering suspects were Posia Angchotiphan, a relative of Pajjuban “Koh Tong” Angchotiphan, Sompol Adam, a Satun provincial administration organisation representative for Muang district, Somboon Sando and Somkiat Kaewpradap.
The five captured were Abdullaseed Mantasum, Madyusop Billem, Cheta Yafat, Mid Mochuen and Usen, a Bangladeshi national.
Pol Maj-Gen Puthichart alleged the nine were members of human-trafficking rings in Songkhla, Satun and Ranong. They would be detained at the Region 9 Provincial Police operations centre for further questioning, he said.
Arrest warrants have been issued for 77 people, of whom 43 are now in detention and 34 still at large. Of the 77, 39 were from Songkhla, 19 from Satun and 12 from Ranong. Seven others were foreign nationals, he said.
Thai authorities have launched a major crackdown on people-smuggling gangs in southern Thailand, following the discovery of mass graves in the Sadao and Songkhla areas, close to the Thai-Malaysian border. Most of the bodies are thought to be migrant Rohingya Muslims from Burma, who were held for ransom at the camps in brutal conditions.
This article was first published in the Bangkok Post on 21 May 2015.