The revelation came at a press conference held yesterday (Dec 15), with Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Sermphan Sirikong, Phuket immigration Chief Col Thanet Sukchai and Lt Col. Ekachai Siri of the Phuket Tourist Police all in attendance to present the results of their efforts.
Also present for the report was Vladimir V. Sosnov, Consul General of the Russian Federation for Phuket.
Col Thanet led the presentation, explaining that the crackdown was a proactive measure under the ‘Phuket Crime - Free’ campaign “for the peace of the people”.
From Dec 1-15, Phuket immigration had enforced six arrests and levied 117 fines for overstay. Eight landlords and hotel managers had faced action for not reporting foreigners staying at their accommodations, Col Thanet reported.
From inspections related to those cases, one foreigner was charged with working illegally, in breach of the visa conditions for permitting stay in the country, he added.
Tourist Police, targeting foreigners working as tour guides or travel agents, reported arresting foreigners related to three cases for working without a work permit or working beyond their right to do so.
However, the key concern was an “influential mafia gang” attempting to hide on the island by requesting to stay as students enrolled at private schools, Col Thanet explained.
There are currently 28 private schools registered on the island, Col Thanet said.
During the COVID-19 travel shutdown, each school was required to report their location, details of the students enrolled and the maximum number of students each school could accommodate, he added.
“We confirmed that Phuket does not have an overflowing student situation, and there 605 cases of visa refusals and cancellations,” he said.
Mr Sosnov, Consul of the Russian Federation Phuket Province, confirmed that “there are currently no influential people in Phuket”, noted an official report of the press conference.
Col Thanet noted that many foreigners had been duped by visa agents fraudulently offering to provide visa extension services.
Phuket Immigration had taken action in 15 “cases”, with 11 cases processed by Muang Phuket Police, two cases processed by Patong Police and two cases processed by Chalong Police.
The names of the visa agents caught fraudulently offering to provide visa extension services, and the penalties they faced, were not reported.
Col Thanet Concluded his presentation by noting that Phuket Immigration had set up a service center, the “Phuket Immigration Help Center”, to help foreigners who have suffered due to the actions of the visa agents.
Col Thanet urged people to report any foreigners breaking the law, or any Thais actively engaged in helping foreigners to break the law.