Begpacker couple of ‘hippy’ Greek man and Chinese man also arrested in Chiang Mai sitting on the pavement as police check the rolls of Chiang Mai schools to track down and detect immigration and labour law abuses.

A 57-year-old American English teacher’s charmed life doing border runs for many years ended on Monday when her school was raided by a task force of police and labour officials as she was in class.

32-year-old Russian man Alexey Safronenkov on Wednesday, November 13th did not look too happy when immigration police turned up on Soi 3 Mae Nam road to bring an end to his epic overstay which extended for nearly 8 years. On Monday, 58-year-old US teacher Patricia Pelin(inset) was also not too pleased when a raiding party of police from the Saraphi district in Chiang Mai and labour department officials took her out of class in the late afternoon. They later arrested her for working illegally in Thailand. Local police assured reporters that this was part of the ongoing crackdown against foreigners which began at the end of October is still gathering pace.

The American faces prosecution for working illegally in Thailand. The ongoing crackdown on illegality connected with foreigners also saw a Russian man’s lunch on Ko Samui interrupted last week as immigration officers tapped him for overstaying his tourist visa by nearly 8 years.

American teacher’s class interrupted by police and officials as she was arrested for working illegally

57-year-old Patricia Pelin was interrupted at her class in a well known private school in the Saraphi district of Chiang Mai on Monday when a raiding party of immigration police and labour department officials arrived.

Worked as a teacher doing border runs

It appears that the American woman had been living uninterrupted and working as an English teacher for ‘many years’ regularly extending her tourist visa by crossing the border into Myanmar and returning without detection in spite of assurances that such practices were a thing of the past in Thailand.

A local trader reported her to authorities

The downfall of the American woman’s lucky scheme came when she aggravated a small local retailer who took it upon himself to inquire about her status as a teacher at the school and reported her to Thai authorities urging that she be investigated.

Several businesspeople in Chiang Mai had a problem with Ms Pelin according to police reports

The raid in Chiang Mai that led to the arrest of Ms Pelin was led by  Saraphi police chief Colonel Songkran Sanwong. 

It is understood that as well as the trader who took upon himself to report her, other business people in the city also reportedly had issues with the American woman. This led police to investigate her employment status at the school.

Ms Pelin claimed that she had intended to seek a work permit as soon as present extension expired.

Crackdown on illegal employment in Thailand

On Monday, police in Chiang Mai assured the media that this was part of an ongoing crackdown announced recently to stamp out designers working illegally in Thailand.

58-year-old Filipina ‘student’ arrested

Police officers in Chiang Mai now suspect that there may be many more foreign teachers such as Ms Pelin. On Tuesday, the arrest of the Filipina student at a language school was announced.

Police check rolls of all schools with foreign students

Thai police in Chiang Mai discovered that the women had reentered Thailand illegally leaving the country and entering Myanmar at the Mai Sai border crossing. 

The woman was smuggled back into Thailand across the Sai river by people smugglers.

The woman came to the attention of authorities when police in Chiang Mai checked the rolls of local schools to verify the visa status of all foreign students.

Begpacker couple arrested in the centre of Chiang Mai

The arrest of the Filipina woman follows the arrest earlier in the month of two begpackers, a Greek man and Chinese woman in Chiang Mai.

Begpacking now illegal in Thailand

Thailand recently strengthened its laws against this sort of activity but selling items has always been illegal under the kingdom’s restrictive labour laws designed to protect Thai workers and nationals.

The arrests occurred on Wednesday, November 6th but were announced at a press conference in Bangkok on Wednesday as police highlight the ongoing crackdown.

Greek described as a ‘hippie’ type

The foreign couple arrested were a 28 year old Chinese national, a woman and a 43-year-old Greek man who police described memorably as a ‘hippie’ type individual.

The couple were found by police at the side of a footpath near the Thapae Gate in the centre of Chiang Mai.

Police not impressed by the 43-year-old European’s appearance and activities in Thailand

Police at Wednesday’s conference had a markedly disdainful attitude towards the 43-year old European’s activities in Thailand and noted his bedraggled appearance.

He was named as Mr Zoulis Spyridon while the Chinese female begpacker was named as Ms Lin Xiaoping.

Retailing of any kind is a protected labour activity and therefore the Greek man and his Chinese friend were breaking Thailand’s labour laws.

Russian man surprised by immigration police as he ate his lunch in a Ko Samui restaurant

Meanwhile, the crackdown in the southern part of Thailand where it began at the end of October continues apace with the arrest of a Russian man on Wednesday 13th November on the Mae Nam road in Koh Samui while he ate his lunch

Amazingly the 32-year-old Alexey Safronenkov had overstayed his tourist visa by nearly eight years despite the waves of crackdowns which began in 2015 and 2016 aimed at eliminating illegal overstayers in Thailand.

The length of the overstay with 2,861 days.

Facing charges of breaching Thai immigration laws

His arrest was announced by the Head of the Immigration Bureau in Surat Thani Police, Colonel Supalerk Phankosol.

He was handed over to police at Ko Samui police station and will be charged with immigration offences. 

In most cases, such foreigners are later transferred to detention in Bangkok either to prison or the Immigration Detention Centre.

Mr Safronenkov, when he is eventually released, will be deported and barred from entry into Thailand for 10 years.

Nigerian arrested at a rented house on overstay charges of nearly 7 years on Ko Pha Ngan

The day before his arrest, the immigration boss announced the arrest of a Nigerian national at a rented house in Ko Pha Ngan who had overrated his visa by nearly 7 years or 2,412 days.

Samuel Nwabueze Iwoha was arrested by a combined force of immigration and tourist police and held in custody at the local police station. He will be prosecuted for immigration offences and later deported. He also faces being banned from the country for up to 10 years.

Further reading:

Immigration boss warns that a new crackdown on foreigners flouting Thai laws has begun