Police in all-out hunt for human-smuggling syndicate mastermind

Police in all-out hunt for human-smuggling syndicate mastermind
Illegal Bangladeshi migrants are taken into a police van at the Police headquarters in Langkawi on May 11, 2015 after landing on Malaysian shores earlier in the day.

LANGKAWI - Police have joined their Thai counterparts in the hunt for Ko Tong, the mastermind behind the massive human-smuggling syndicate operating in this region.

The kingpin, whose real name is Pajjuban Aungkachotephan according to Thai police, was reported to be hiding on this island after fleeing Thailand some time last week.

Langkawi OCPD Supt Harrith Kam Abdullah said his men were going all out and would find the fugitive if he was still here.

"But so far, nothing," he said, adding that several police sources reported that Ko Tong might not be on Langkawi. "But we will continue with our efforts."

Supt Harrith declined to reveal how many policemen were assigned to the hunt but it is believed that a significant number was involved.

The syndicate is believed to be responsible for bringing thousands of illegal immigrants from Myanmar and Bangladesh to Malaysia and neighbouring countries.

Thailand police chief Gen Somyot Poompanmoung was quoted as saying that Ko Tong had fled to a "neighbouring country", possibly Langkawi.

Thai police have seized assets worth about 10 million baht (S$394 million) belonging to the man, a one-time senior provincial official who has his own island, Rat Yai, in the Satun province which is about 42km from Langkawi.

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