The 95 arrested in Phuket last week for overstaying their visas could be just the tip of a 100,000 person iceberg, according to the country’s Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan.
62 Indians, 11 Pakistanis, 6 Egyptians and 16 foreigners from other nationalities were rounded up last Friday by immigration police whilst 15 Phuket-based police are being being asked to ‘please explain’ why many of the 142 other potentially immigrants without papers caught between October 2016 and October 2017 weren’t handed over to Immigration for processing. Of the 95 rounded up last week in Phuket, immigration police claim 70 of them were overstaying and another 24 others were immigrants without papers.
But the crackdown is happening right around Thailand.
Deputy Prime Minister Prawit is instructing national security agencies to get tough on foreign criminals and “influential figures” following the discovery that nearly 100,000 foreigners were overstaying their visas in Thailand. 100,000!
The Government fears that some of these people are committing crimes and damaging Thailand’s image. Defence Ministry spokesman Colonel Khongcheep Tantrawanich says that the government, via national security officers, would continue to enforce the law strictly. This would include the crackdown on influential figures including foreign criminals in a bid to narrow the social gap and create safer places for the Thai public.
Following the report on overstayers, Khongcheep quoted Prawit as instructing the military, police and administrative officials to seriously crackdown on transnational criminal network members, especially those who have disguised themselves as tourists.
Prawit is also urging the Royal Thai Police to check on incoming and outgoing visitors and implement greater measures to control, monitor and act against those who have overstayed. He also urged officers not to get involved with or seek illegal benefits from these people.
Khongcheep said the authorities have arrested foreign criminals in various areas including the Nan, Phra Khanong and On Nut areas in Bangkok, and in Chiang Mai, Pattaya, Phuket and Samui. They were conducting both random checks and acting on public complaints. Khongcheep said transnational criminals or foreign criminals in Thailand were involved in various vices such as drug dealing, weapon trading, human trafficking and prostitution, as well as forging passports, selling fake diamonds, online gambling and running call-centre scams. These crimes had resulted in economic damage to the country and tarnished its image. Officials have so far gathered evidence against and arrested 300 such criminals thanks to the crackdown and public assistance in monitoring and reporting suspicious behaviour.
SOURCES & PHOTOS: The Nation, Kritsada Mueanhawong