American woman arrested at illegal Ko Phangan daycare centre or crèche. 8 detained as latest Immigration Bureau crackdown targets foreign business violators across Thailand.

An American woman operating an illegal daycare centre for foreign children on Ko Phangan was arrested on Wednesday. The raid on the centre catering for 20 foreign children with foreign nannies and maids, was led by the Immigration Bureau in Surat Thani. Afterwards, the Commander of Immigration Police in the province said that they had been given a new policy directive. In short, this was to crack down on illegal business concerns linked with foreigners. In all, eight people were taken into custody at Ko Phangan Police Station.

Police raided the unauthorised day care centre for foreign children located in a coconut plantation on Wednesday. 40-year-old Ms Jennifer Irwin was arrested, along with 7 members of her staff. All were working illegally.

An American woman operating an unauthorised daycare centre on Ko Phangan was arrested on Wednesday.

The incident happened after Immigration Bureau police and an Administrative force of the Tourist Police launched a discreet and somewhat couvert raid.

The operation was led by the Immigration Department accompanied by local police on the island. The American woman was identified by police as 40-year-old Ms Jennifer Irwin.

American woman charged with running an illegal daycare centre for foreign children on Ko Phangan, the popular tourist island off Surat Thani province

She was accused of running an illegal daycare centre for foreign children on Ko Phangan. The island is a well-known tourist spot off Thailand’s southern Surat Thani Province.

Acting on orders from Police Lieutenant General Itthiphon Itthisanronnachai, Commander-in-Chief of the Immigration Bureau, the raid was coordinated by Police Major General Songprote Sirisukha.

Police Major General Songprote is the Commander of the Immigration Division 6. This week, the senior officer also revoked the visa of the notorious Swiss man Uli Fehr in Phuket. 

Swiss man Uli Fehr’s hellish Thai nightmare as he is detained and branded as a threat to society

Afterwards, Immigration Bureau officers made it clear that a crackdown on foreigners operating illegal business concerns in Thailand is underway.

Crèche was located on a coconut plantation

This week’s raid was conducted on a rental house situated in the middle of a coconut plantation serving as a crèche.

Upon entering the premises, officials discovered a fenced area containing tables, chairs, toys, teaching materials, and provisions for young children.

Approximately 20 foreign children aged 3-5 years were found inside, accompanied by three foreign women.

One was Ukrainian while there were two Israelis. In brief, they were working as babysitters. Four Burmese female workers served as housekeepers.

Among them, police identified Ms Jennifer Keane Irwin, the American national who was identified as the owner of the daycare centre.

40 year old American boss failed to produce documentation legitimising the childcare centre as well as its nannies and home maids. All found to be illegal

When questioned about permits and licences, Ms Irwin failed to produce any documentation.

Additionally, the Ukrainian, Israeli and Burmese workers were found to be without proper work permits.

In short, this led to their arrest alongside their boss. 

The children were safely returned to their parents. Afterwards, investigations revealed that the daycare centre had not obtained the necessary permissions to operate legally.

Police Colonel Naruewat Putthawiro is the Superintendent of the Immigration Bureau for Surat Thani province. 

Later, he emphasised the government’s determination to eliminate illegal activities involving foreigners.

In addition, he said that Immigration Bureau officers have been issued with new policy orders.

Similarly, the goal is to detect illegal activities linked to foreign residents. Especially in tourist areas like Surat Thani Province.

Everyone working at the daycare centre was taken into detention at Ko Phangan Police Station after the children were returned safely to their families

Ms Jennifer and the nannies who were arrested along with all the workers, were taken to Ko Phangan Police Station. 

The three nannies were charged with working without work permits. The Myanmar maids similarly had no work permits and appeared to have entered Thailand illegally.

In short order, they were also charged with breaking immigration laws and detained for illegal entry.

Police Colonel Naruewat urged citizens to report any suspicious activities or wrongdoing by foreigners to the authorities.

At length, he explained that police are essentially maintaining security and confidence for tourists visiting the region.

Ms Irwin, the US woman, had neither professional qualifications nor any authorisation to open the crèche 

The charges against Ms Irwin include operating a childcare business without authorisation. In addition, she is to be charged with failing to notify authorities of employment hires. 

Police also noted that she had no professional licence for such an undertaking. Neither did she have the appropriate permits from civil authorities to operate a childcare establishment.

The centre did, however, appear to be well run and organised by the US woman.

The foreign workers face charges related to working without proper permits and illegally entering the country. They face being detained while being prosecuted and subsequently will be deported.

Join the Thai News forum, follow Thai Examiner on Facebook here
Receive all our stories as they come out on Telegram here
Follow Thai Examiner here

Further reading:

National crackdown underway as German spurned in love, is arrested for a 5-month visa overstay in Krabi

Visa amnesty finally ending but the new regime is pragmatic and may allow for further renewals

Time up for some long-stay business owners as immigration warns of arrests after Saturday’s deadline

Visa amnesty to end with 30-day extensions on application as the focus moves to long-stay visa holders

American and Thai wife arrested for operating an illegal visa business in Bangkok using fake official stamps

Broken-hearted Swede fears history will repeat itself as shock parting left him stranded in Laos for 4 months

Two Immigration Bureau officers in Nonthaburi suspended after video appears to show bribe request

Stranded foreigners must get embassy letter, new visa or leave Thailand to avoid arrest by police