Thailand nabs suspected boss of human trafficking network
THAILAND arrested the suspected kingpin of a human trafficking network yesterday, the latest bust in a crackdown on people smuggling that has triggered a humanitarian crisis on the region's seas.
The Royal Thai Police said they suspected that Patchuban Angchotipan, a former official in the provincial government of the southern Satun province, was the boss of a large human trafficking network.
"In Satun province, he is high-level," said Thai national police chief Somyot Poompanmuang.
"He is the chief. He has many subordinates."
Patchuban, whose nickname is Kor Tong, has been charged with a range of offences including human trafficking, smuggling illegal migrant workers into Thailand, detention of others leading to bodily harm and holding people for ransom. He denies the charges against him.
Meanwhile, the foreign ministers of Thailand, Malaysia and Indonesia will meet in Kuala Lumpur tomorrow to discuss how to tackle trafficking, after the clampdown led criminals to abandon boats crammed with thousands of migrants rather than risk landing on Thai shores.
Boatloads of Bangladeshi migrants and Rohingya Muslims from Myanmar have arrived in the waters of Indonesia and Malaysia, and many thousands more remain adrift.
South-east Asian governments have shown little sign of a coordinated response to the crisis, and have pushed some migrant boats back and forth across their maritime borders.
Thailand ordered a clean-up of suspected traffickers' camps earlier this month after 33 bodies, believed to be of migrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh, were found in shallow graves near the Malaysian border.
Police have arrested 30 people over the past two weeks suspected of links to human trafficking networks, said Thai deputy national police chief Jaktip Chaijinda. Thirty-five others are on the run.