Joint forces from the Provincial Police Region 9, Third Naval Area Command and the Department of Special Investigation on Saturday (Nov 7) launched an operation to raid 11 onshore and offshore targets in Kantang district after arrest warrants were issued by the Trang Provincial Court.
They arrested Mr Sompol “Ko Nang” Jirotmontree, 66, who also operates the Poka Sathaporn fish market, along with seven other suspects.
Of those arrested, three skippers were apprehended at sea. Naval officers tracked the Wanich Pramong, Poka Sathaporn 19 and Poka Sathaporn 34 vessels through the night.
They found the trawlers in three separate locations, all about 60 nautical miles from Koh Libong in Kantang, around 5am.
Authorities arrested Prawit Kimsai, Thaworn Chantharak and Khammee Pradasuk, the skippers of the three ships, and brought them back to shore to hand them over to police for interrogation.
Weerapong Chuenpakdi, commander of the Provincial Police Region 9, said a crackdown on human trafficking began after officials from the Labour Ministry and the EJF Foundation came together last month to help forced labourers from Myanmar working on fishing boats in the province.
The migrants told the authorities how they had been forced to work on trawlers and provided police with intelligence so they could target key suspects, officials said.
Pol Maj Gen Weerapong said investigators were able to collect enough evidence for the court to approve several warrants for suspects facing human trafficking charges.
Sayan Prasongsamret, the commander of the navy’s Third Region, said the arrests were part of wider government plans to crack down on human trafficking at sea and illegal fishing.
Thailand was yellow-carded by the European Union over its failure to deal with illegal, unreported and unregulated fishing earlier this year and faces trade sanctions if the situation does not improve.
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