As of February 15, Battambang provincial authorities have arrested 14 brokers and others involved with facilitating the movement of workers who are crossing the border illegally to avoid quarantine.

Nine suspects were taken to court and four others are still being detained for questioning after having been caught attempting to transport five workers across the border from Thailand.

Battambang Provincial Administration spokesman Soeum Bunrith told The Post on February 16 that following Prime Minister Hun Sen’s order, the provincial authorities had increased border guard force to 875 people to carry out strict inspections of all trucks transporting goods from Thailand to prevent migrant workers sneaking into the country.

Bunrith said that on February 15, five workers were found hiding on two trucks transporting fruit. Authorities have already questioned the five and sent them to quarantine centres.

Authorities are working on sending four more people – including the drivers and their assistants – to court.

Bunrith said that on February 16 Battambang provincial governor Nguon Ratanak and Sam Vanvirak, director of the Ministry of Interior’s internal security department, chaired a meeting to further tighten measures to prevent illegal border crossings in Kamrieng, Phnom Proek and Sampov Loun districts.

He said the provincial authorities had also issued additional orders to all administrations along the border regions to prevent anyone from hiding migrant workers in their homes because in the past people have done so to help workers evade quarantine.

Three migrant workers are seen hiding in a cargo truck inbound from Thailand at the Daung International Border Checkpoint in Battambang province on Tuesday. Police

“People in in Kamrieng, Phnom Proek and Sampov Loun districts who want to leave their area must have a certificate from the commune police showing that they are really residents of that village or commune in order to help us catch any migrant workers attempting to skip quarantine,” he said.

Sum Art, deputy chief of the Cambodia-Thailand Border relations working group at the Daung International Border Checkpoint in Kamrieng district, also said on February 16 that they had cooperated in restricting entry and exit through the border checkpoint by carefully inspecting all trucks.

On February 15, the prime minister ordered the municipal and provincial authorities to enforce stricter measures for crossing through border checkpoints.

He ordered that anyone caught trying to avoid quarantine be interviewed to determine the identities of any brokers or others who may be providing assistance to workers to cross the border illegally.