Immigration Bureau Cracks Down on Call-Centre Gangs
In recent months, the Immigration Bureau (IB) has arrested at least 20 Chinese nationals who were smuggled into Thailand from Cambodia. These individuals were en route to Myanmar to work for call-centre gangs. Investigations revealed that they were working for Chinese-operated gangs, intending to transfer their base of operations to Myanmar. Immigration Bureau Commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Pakphumpipat Sajjaphan, and his deputy, Pol Maj Gen Phanthana Nutchanart, stated on Monday that the Chinese operators were moving both their compatriots and Thai nationals to Myanmar following crackdowns in Cambodia.
Arrests Made Across Provinces
Between March and August, five Thai nationals and 20 Chinese nationals were arrested in various provinces, including Mukdahan, Kalasin, Kamphaeng Phet, Ayutthaya, and Nong Khai. All arrestees were headed to Mae Sot district in Tak, a province bordering Myanmar. Three of the Chinese nationals apprehended in Kalasin informed the police that they had been deceived into working in Myanmar. Their journey involved passing through Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand, according to Pol Lt Gen Pakphumpipat.
Shift in Smuggling Routes
The smuggling of call-centre workers has since changed, utilizing routes that do not pass through Thai territory. This shift occurred because the operators are now aware that the police have been monitoring their activities. Pol Maj Gen Phanthana stated that some victims were recruited as interpreters or bar workers but ended up working for call-centre gangs. Others were fully aware of the illegal nature of their employment.
Crackdowns Lead to Gang Relocation
The increased crackdowns in Cambodia have prompted gangs to relocate their operations to Laos and Myanmar. Pol Maj Gen Phanthana revealed that the Immigration Bureau has been working closely with the Highway Police, Police Cyber Task Force, and Anti-Human Trafficking Centre to address this issue. The smuggling of Chinese gang members and individuals from Southeast Asia into illegal enterprises remains an ongoing problem.
A Decrease in Arrests
Previously, more than 100 call-centre workers were arrested per day. However, that number has recently dropped to just a few dozen. This decrease could be attributed to the gangs’ shifting operations and new smuggling routes that avoid Thai territory.