The Governor of Chiang Rai is asking Lao authorities to help rescue a number of Thai workers who were allegedly duped by gangs from China.
Governor Phassakorn Boonyalak said he had asked for help from the governor of Bokeo province in Laos where the Thai workers are based. He said the Lao governor had promised assistance.
He also informed Thailand’s Interior Ministry and Foreign Affairs Ministry about the matter.
According to the Bangkok Post, the Governor was alerted to the Thai workers’ situation by NGOs and Thai media about Thai nationals being held against their will by gang members from China.
The Governor told reporters that no joint committees have been formed between the two countries to review the case and that some of the Thai workers entered Laos illegally.
We don’t know whether the Thais were duped by the China gang members or snuck across the border into Laos illegally.
The Thais sought help from their relatives or NGOs when problems arose, Governor Phassakorn said. Adding that so far only two Thais have sought help.
Nevertheless, we know that some of them were smuggled into [Laos] by Thai job brokers. Thai authorities are now hunting these alleged job brokers.
Eleven Escape from China Gang Members
According to an NGO source, Thais crossed the Mekong River earlier this year to work in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (SEZ) in Laos’ Bokeo province only to find that they had been duped into working for a skimming gang from China there.
The NGO Source said that some 15 Thais aged from 20 to 30 contacted relatives back home last month seeking immediate assistance to return to Thailand.
Eleven of the Thai workers managed to escape their captors from China and return safely to Thailand to recount their ordeals, but four still remain there, the NGO source said.
The returnees said they were required to work 15 hours a day and that electrical wires were erected around their living quarters to prevent them from escaping.
An unnamed 29-year-old victim said that several victims had well-paying jobs in Thailand, such as guiding tours and managing Chinese restaurants before the Covid-19 virus struck.
According to the woman, they lost their jobs as a result of the pandemic. Labour brokers offered them work as administrators for an online casino operation in the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone.
The woman said they were offered 30,000 baht per month under a six-month contract, but instead of working as administrators, they had to clone Facebook and Instagram accounts to scam users out of money.
According to another victim, Chinese gang members threatened to sell them to other gangs if they did not scam people out of their money.