More surveillance to curb illegal crossings

National police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk has ordered all police units to ramp up surveillance in order to prevent the entry of illegal migrants, as the country continues to struggle to combat its third wave of Covid-19 infections.

Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapat, deputy national police chief, said all police units will be coordinating closely with local authorities and security agencies to curb illegal border crossings, out of concerns for a possible outbreak of highly contagious coronavirus variants from neighbouring countries.

He said checkpoints would also be set up in the inner provinces with manpower allocated to work around-the-clock to stop the transport of illegal migrants.

According to the Pol Gen Damrongsak, the Royal Thai Police has also issued guidelines for quarantining illegal migrants for border patrol police across 10 provinces.

Illegal migrants who face a single charge of illegal entry under the Immigration Act will be immediately isolated, charged and deported as soon as they complete the required quarantine.

The actions came as the Centre for Covid-19 Situation Administration (CCSA) on Monday stressed the need for local authorities to be vigilant in their lookout for illegal crossings from neighbouring countries.

CCSA assistant spokeswoman Apisamai Srirangson said on Monday a CCSA sub-committee urged the officials to keep a close watch on the Covid-19 situation in neighbouring countries and to prevent illegal border crossings.

Between May 1-10, 1,126 illegal migrants were arrested for sneaking in through natural border crossings, while 104 people were detained in the past 24 hours along for illegal entry from Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia and Malaysia.

Earlier, virus expert Yong Poovorawan warned that regional authorities must monitor border crossings from Malaysia, where the highly contagious South African coronavirus variant is spreading.

Meanwhile, authorities in Samut Sakhon on Monday inspected a seafood warehouse in Muang district where they arrested illegal migrant workers following a raid.

The raid, which was a joint operation between police, labour officials and troops, followed a tip-off that that illegal migrants were employed at the premises.

Seven workers fled at the sight of the officials but they were all captured. Six of them had no identification documents, while the other had incomplete paperwork.

The six were charged with illegal entry and working without a permit.

The warehouse operator would be summoned to acknowledge a charge of hiring illegal migrants. The operator will also be charged with providing shelter to illegal migrants.

The inspection followed the order of Samut Sakhon governor Verasak Vichitsangsri who expressed concerns that the trafficking of migrant workers would complicate disease control efforts in the province, which was a hotspot of Thailand’s second wave of Covid-19 infections.

Separately on Sunday, officials in Prachuap Khiri Khan arrested 24 Myanmar nationals who had sneaked across the border via Phu Nam Yod in tambon Khlong Wan in Muang district.