By KRISSANA THIWATSIRIKUL
The truck was in no state to be driven further so the suspect fled the scene just before officers reached the spot, leaving behind the eight Rohingya – five females and three males.
A 20-year-old Rohingya man told police via an interpreter that each of them had paid 3,000,000 Myanmar kyat (about Bt70,000) to an agent to be transported out of Sittwe city in Rakhine state to Malaysia. The young man said he and seven others crossed the natural borderline into Thailand without going through the immigration procedure. He said about 12 others had travelled in a different direction.
The group of eight took a bus to an unfamiliar meeting point before the Thai smuggler picked them up in the truck at 7pm on Thursday and seized their cellphones. They had been travelling in the truck for 12 hours heading to Songkhla’s border district of Sadao before police intercepted them.
Karaket Police Station inspector Pol Lt-Colonel Yanyong Hiranburana said officers had not yet filed any charges against the detained Rohingya people pending a further screening by a multiple-disciplinary team that looks for human trafficking victims.
The roadside spot on Highway No 48 where the truck was intercepted is only 10 kilometres away from the scene where Hua Sai police had on January 11, 2015 rounded up 100 Rohingya people along with their smugglers. That mass arrest led to the subsequent crackdown on a major human trafficking gang in Thailand.