More than a hundred illegal Cambodian migrant workers smuggled into Thailand were arrested and sent back home yesterday, according to Cambodia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Thai media reported the Cambodians had been hiding in forest near the border town of Aranyaprathet waiting for traffickers to take them to Bangkok.
But the traffickers – who Thai police suggested had heard of an impending crackdown – never showed up, leaving police to arrest the migrants en masse.
Ministry spokesman Koy Kuong said the migrant workers, 86 men, 42 women, and a boy and a girl of unspecified age, were arrested yesterday morning and eventually transferred to Cambodian authorities, arriving back in the Kingdom in the afternoon.
“[They were arrested] only yesterday, [and stayed] not even a day in Thailand,” Kuong said.
The workers then separated and started making their way home. None were charged or punished in any way on arrival in Cambodia, Kuong said.
Thai media reported the migrants had paid 2,500 baht ($77) each to a Cambodian trafficker to take them to Bangkok.
Cambodians are allowed to work in Thailand by registering with a list of approved agencies that legally send them to the country, but some avoid the agencies due to high fees and a lack of transparency.
Last month, police arrested the owner of a phony work agency in Phnom Penh after workers protested they had arrived in Thailand with no jobs on location, despite paying a hefty $350 finder’s fee.