TORONTO - THAI authorities arrested more than 100 Tamil migrants who were en route to Canada, Canada's immigration minister said on Friday.

Minister Jason Kenney said the arrests should deter other migrants hoping to sneak into Canada.

'We understand that they ... detained over 100 illegal immigrants who apparently were planning on coming to Canada through a smuggling operation,' Mr Kenney said. 'We think this sends a strong message to the smugglers and their would-be customers that they should think twice.' Mr Kenney wouldn't say whether Canadian officials were involved in the arrests in Thailand. But he says Canada has increased its co-operation with South-east Asian authorities to deter human smuggling.

In August, a Thai-flagged cargo ship carrying nearly 500 ethnic Tamils fleeing Sri Lanka arrived in British Columbia. The migrants arrived safely after spending three months at sea in the belly of a cargo ship before it docked on Vancouver Island.

Last October, a ship carrying 76 Sri Lankan migrants was intercepted in Canadian waters. All have been released from custody while their cases are being processed.

Canadian officials were concerned that the rebel Tamil Tigers, which fought and lost a bloody 25-year war for independence that ended in May 2009, were smuggling people into Canada, home to the largest Tamil community outside Sri Lanka and India.

Thai officials arrest migrants