Immigration police on Tuesday arrested five Cambodian monks who had entered the country illegally at an abandoned housing project in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan province, an immigration police official said at a media briefing on Wednesday.
Immigration Police Division 3 commander Pol Maj Gen Achayon Kraithong said the action on Tuesday followed the arrests of 11 Cambodian monks on July 11 at an unused plot of about 100 rai with dense trees and undergrowth by a road to Suvarnabhumi airport.
The monks said they had illegally entered Thailand and moved to Samut Prakan, where they had collected cash donations from local residents in the area. They said Thai people readily gave away cash and other donations, especially to Buddhist monks.
Immigration police said questioning of the 11 monks revealed that other monks were staying in an area of about 50 rai in tambon Bang Phli Yai in Samut Prakan’s Bang Phli district. In that area there are about 10 deserted buildings of an abandoned Eua-arthorn housing project.
After keeping the area under watch, a team of immigration police on Tuesday combed the area and managed to round up five Cambodian monks.
The monks said they sneaked across the border from Cambodia via a natural border crossing in Sa Kaeo province before taking a van to the Mor Chit bus terminal in Bangkok. From there, they took a taxi to Samut Prakan where they stayed in the deserted buildings of the abandoned housing project.
They said they went out early in the morning everyday to collect alms and cash donations from local residents.
They admitted they had illegally travelled to Samut Prakan many times before, police said. Whenever they had collected an amount of money, they went back to Cambodia and returned after the money had been spent, Pol Maj Gen Achayon said.
After the arrests, the monks were taken to Wat Bang Chalong Nok temple to be disrobed. They would be deported after going through a legal process.
According to Pol Maj Gen Achayon, the immigration police had also arrested a Thai man for illegally transporting two Cambodian migrants into the country in a Toyota Fortuner via a border checkpoint at Ban Laem in Chanthaburi province. He identified the man only as Ekapot, 46, who was arrested with five mobile phones and two account books.