American Caught Running an Illegal Nursery on Koh Phangan

An American woman has been arrested by the police for allegedly running an unlicensed nursery on Koh Phangan in Surat Thani.

Police report that around 20 foreign children were discovered on the property. Additionally, three foreign women employed as babysitters and four Myanmar nationals working as housekeepers have been detained and face charges for illegal employment.

On Wednesday morning, a team of immigration, tourist, and local police and officials, raided a rented, walled-off house within a coconut plantation in Moo 3 village, tambon Koh Phangan.

Inside, they discovered around 20 foreign children between the ages of 3-5, along with educational materials, toys, desks, chairs, and meals for the children. Some of the children were engaged in studies, while others played in the room.

Among the staff were three tourist women serving as babysitters, one from Ukraine and two from Israel, alongside four Myanmar women in housekeeping roles.

An American woman, later identified as Jennifer Keanne Irwin, aged 40, arrived during the raid and claimed ownership of the nursery. When requested to show a permit for operating the nursery, she was unable to produce one, according to the police.

The babysitters were found to be working without the necessary permits, and the Myanmar women were identified as illegal immigrants. Their identities have not been disclosed.

All individuals were transported to Koh Phangan police station for further questioning.

Authorities have contacted the children’s parents, asking them to collect their children.

Ms. Jennifer faces initial charges for establishing and running a nursery without authorization and for not reporting the nature and location of her employment to the local registrar.

The babysitters faced charges for working without the necessary permits as foreign nationals.

Pol Col Naruewat Phutthawiro, the head of Surat Thani immigration police, emphasized that the government, alongside the Royal Thai Police and the Immigration Bureau, is implementing a policy crackdown against foreigners working or residing illegally in Thailand to ensure tourist safety.

He urged anyone with information about foreign violators to report to immigration officers via Hotline 1178 or call 077 423440.