Immigration police are looking into a possible human-trafficking scheme in which Cambodian Muslims legally enter Thailand through Sa Kaew as tourists for 14 days but work as rubber tappers in Narathiwat for up to six months.
When they want to go home, they let themselves be arrested for illegal entry by abandoning their travel documents. Then they are repatriated and later re-enter Thailand using the same names in new passports.
Pol Lt-Colonel Benjaphol Rodsawas, an immigration officer in Narathiwat, said this channel could also be used to help insurgents in the deep South flee Thailand or relocate. Besides being illegal, it serves as a measure for traffickers to relocate these people without them being prosecuted or imprisoned, he said.
The discovery followed recent arrests of 131 Cambodian Muslims in Narathiwat, who entered Thailand through Sa Kaew on a 14-day tourist visit. They travelled to Narathiwat and worked as rubber tappers.