Ao Mo was accused of conning Burmese people into working on fishing boats without pay, and then demanding a ransom for their release from slavery.
The arrest came after a complaint from the Burmese Labor Development Office (Thailand). Staff there said that they had been helping four Burmese who had been brought in by “an agent” to work on fishing boats out of Phuket Town.
But when they started work they were not paid and were told that if they wanted to go back home their families must pay B20,000 each for their release from slavery.
At a press conference yesterday (June 8) at Phuket Provincial Police HQ – chaired by Pol Lt Gen Panya Mamen, Commissioner of Police Region 8, along with Pol Maj Gen Krajang Suwannarat, currently heading the Phuket Police Force, and other senior police officers – it was revealed how Ao was caught.
A relative of one of the victims told police that in order to secure his cousin’s release he was told to call an “agent’s” mobile phone number. The “agent” told him to wait at the Phuket Bus Terminal, where someone would escort him to the port.
Police supplied the relative with B20,000 to pay the ransom, took him to the bus station and then, accompanied by Burmese Labor Development officers, watched until the relative was approached by a woman, Suree Sutha.
Police followed as Sutha took the relative to the port, where they were met by Ao Mo. The relative handed over the money and Ao Mo then produced four Burmese who had been hidden under the quay. Officers descended on him and arrested him.
They seized B20,000 from him, which they later photocopied as evidence that it was the money they, the police, has supplied to the relative. They also seized Ao Mo’s phone. Checking it, they confirmed it had the same number as the one the relative had called when he received instructions to go to the bus stop.
Ao Mo admitted to police that he was the agent who had fooled the four victims into coming to work as a fishermen without salary. They had been held in servitude for six months, unpaid, and unable to go home.
Ao Mo said that he had previously worked as a fisherman for eight years but for the past two had been an “agent”.