Thai official arrested for suspected human trafficking

BANGKOK: A local politician in southern Thailand was arrested for alleged involvement in a human trafficking ring, a news report said.


The representative of Khuan Don district in the Satun provincial administration was arrested Sunday, the local deputy police chief was quoted as saying by Thai Rath.

Mass graves thought to contain the bodies of Rohingya migrant workers have been fond in the area this month, sparking accusations of human trafficking amid the collusion of local officials.

Two other people wanted in connection with the alleged trafficking network, also turned themselves in, police said.

On Saturday, police seized the mayor of a border town in southern Thailand and searched his property.

Police have arrested a total of 15 people suspected of involvement in people smuggling operations, including several local police and officials who are likely to be removed from their positions, Police General Ake Angsananont said.

They are looking for another 34 suspects, he said.

Fourteen police officers in southern Thailand were transferred to inactive posts for suspected links to trafficking rings and negligence, effective Monday, officials said at the weekend.

They will join 50 other police officers transferred to inactive posts – effectively suspended – this month, pending investigation.

More than 200 Rohingya and Bangladeshi migrants found in the mountains near Thai-Malaysian border in the past week are being questioned to determine whether they are victims of human trafficking.

Since detention camps and mass graves believed to have been run by smugglers were discovered across southern Thailand, Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has called for a three-way meeting with Myanmar and Malaysia to resolve the situation.

Rohingyas are a stateless Muslim-minority in the northern region of predominantly Buddhist Myanmar.

They have suffered decades of state-sanctioned discrimination and constant ethnic violence.

Many escape by travelling to Malaysia through Thailand by boats and cars that are run by smugglers, who often hold them in captivity until ransom is paid from their family back home.