BANGKOK, Thailand Oct 10 (NNNBernama) Thai authorities have arrested a group of 23 Myanmar nationals found hiding inside a forest in Songkhla in southern Thailand, waiting for the right time to cross the ThaiMalaysian border to enter Malaysia illegally.

Songkhla Immigration commander Col Chootaret Yingyongdamrongsakul said the group comprising 19 men and four women were nabbed by patrolling soldiers and policemen at Tambon Samnak Kham three days ago.

They (the Myanmar nationals) were waiting for someone, also a Myanmar national, to fetch them and smuggle them into Malaysia to work, he told Bernama when contacted today.

Investigations are ongoing, he said, as the authorities had yet to identify the mastermind behind the attempt to enter Malaysia illegally or whether a human trafficking syndicate was responsible for arranging their illegal entry into the neighbouring country.

According to Yingyongdamrongsakul, the Myanmar nationals would face charges under Thai law first before being deported to their home country.

Meanwhile, a police source said the group entered Thailand illegally through Ranong near ThaiMyanmar border before making their way to Songkhla.

He said each individual of the group had to pay between RM2,000 to RM3,000 to the man to enable them to be smuggled into Malaysia and hired as workers in the country.

Source: NAM News Network