Thai officials purged amid alleged trafficking complicity (dpa German Press Agency)

Bangkok (dpa) – The Thai government has purged local officials suspected of being complicit with or turning a blind eye to a human trafficking ring, an official said Thursday.

Fifty officers were moved to inactive posts and at least eight village administrators arrested, National Police Chief Somyot Pumpanmuang told reporters.

Police last week discovered a mass grave in the southern province of Songkhla containing 26 bodies at an abandoned camp used by human traffickers.

The remains were of Rohingya refugees from Myanmar, police said.

Survivors from the camp told reporters and officials that they were regularly beaten by traffickers. They said they were left to die by the traffickers because they were took weak to be moved.

They were also denied access to food and medicine unless they paid a ransom to their captors for their release.

Police suspect the traffickers at the camp moved more than 300 Rohingyas across the border to Malaysia as authorities closed in.

On Thursday, a special army and police task force found 30 more graves thought to be of migrants, at an abandoned detention camp for the Rohingya in Songkhla, according to the Bangkok Post.

Officials said they have not yet exhumed the graves for verification.

Activists welcomed the recent steps by Thai officials, but some expressed reservations amid allegations of collusion between traffickers and local authorities.

“That there is death and torture in these camps is not news to the Thai authorities, it has been going on for years,” said Matthew Smith of trafficking watchdog Fortify Rights.

“There is a history of Thai authorities making arrests in human trafficking cases but a failure to convict.”