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By: Eric DeGood, NIck Testa, Tyler Crandon, Jennifer Fredericks, Michelle Lee


In Thailand, trafficking is a Bt500 billion annual business, which is 50%- 60% of the government's annual budget and more lucrative than the drug trade.
For traffickers in Southeast Asia, Thailand is a land of opportunity. Trafficking in this tourist hotspot is a roughly $12 billion industry — a bigger cash earner than the country’s drug trade, according to the International Labor Organization. Simple economics drive the boom: In Thailand, per capita income is $6,900; in the surrounding states of Cambodia, Laos, and Burma that figure hovers in the $1,500 to $1,700 range. Inadequately funded law enforcement and relaxed visa regulations have traditionally guaranteed the traffickers’ trade. To keep the supply steady, Thai crime groups also collaborate with mafia syndicates from China, Russia, Japan, Burma, and elsewhere, Human Rights Watch reports. The Japanese yakuzas (mafia groups) in particular have a strong presence in Thailand.

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