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Ko Myo, Human Trafficking Suspect From Myanmar, Arrested In Thailand

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Mynanmar detainees hold up their documents through a fence at the Lenggeng Immigration Center on the outskirts of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Thursday, July 23, 2009. (AP Photo/Mark Baker) | AP

BANGKOK -- Thai authorities have arrested and charged a suspected human trafficker who allegedly sold hundreds of migrants from Myanmar into slavery to work in Thailand's fishing industry, police said Saturday.

Ko Myo, a 42-year-old Myanmar national, was captured in a raid by police and justice officials on Aug. 1 in Thailand's southern province of Surat Thani and faces human trafficking charges, said Police Maj. Gen. Chavalit Sawangpuech.

"This is a very significant case as Ko Myo is the leader of one of most notorious human trafficking rings in Thailand," Chavalit said. "He is an agent with a large client base, who has abused his own countrymen on Thai soil for 10 years."

Ko Myo is being held in custody at a hospital after sustaining gunshot wounds during the raid.

Chavalit said police were also investigating his alleged involvement in the rape and killing of a Myanmar woman in March in Thailand's Trang province, on the Andaman coast.

Three of Ko Myo's close aides were arrested in separate raids. All three face human trafficking charges, while two were also charged with rape and murder of the same Myanmar woman.

Chavalit said Thai police would reach out to their counterparts in Myanmar to try to arrest more human trafficking suspects.

The London-based Environmental Justice Foundation said in a statement Friday that it welcomed the capture of the suspects and called for parties "to work together to prevent human trafficking in Thai seafood production and bring an end to this devastating practice."

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