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Chinese gang links under scrutiny

Chinese gang links under scrutiny

Following a number of crackdowns on several illegal pubs in Bangkok and Chon Buri, deputy national police chief Surachate​Hakparn is pledging to prosecute and extradite Chinese nationals who are found to be involved in “grey businesses” in Thailand.

Pol Gen Surachate also promised authorities will revoke the Thai citizenship granted to alleged Triad boss “Tuhao”, also known as Chaiyanat Kornchayanant, who is under investigation for his links with the drug trade after narcotics were found at an illegal pub in Yannawa district that is believed to be owned by him.

The deputy national police chief also pledged to take action against any state officials if they are found to have been involved in criminal activities.

Tuhao immediately became a prime suspect after police raided Jinling Pub on Charoen Rat Road on Oct 26, where they tested 104 patrons — 99 of them Chinese nationals — who were positive for drugs.

The alleged Triad boss turned himself in on Nov 23, after Bangkok South Criminal Court issued a warrant for his arrest for collusion in the drug trade and possession of narcotics with intent to sell.

While Tuhao denied all of the charges, the court denied him bail.

Last week, Pol Gen Surachate ordered searches at two locations in Bangkok — a luxury house worth about 200 million baht on Rama V Road and a luxury hotel in downtown Bangkok — to find more evidence relating to Tuhao.

At the house, police met Tuhao’s wife, a Thai police colonel reported to be with the police’s foreign affairs sub-division and a niece of a former commissioner of the Royal Thai Police, who was also a former deputy prime minister in Yingluck Shinawatra’s cabinet. Her name was not released.

While officers did not find any illegal items in the house, they seized all assets belonging to the couple, Pol Gen Surachate said.

The raid on Jinling Pub followed a tip sent in by ex-politician and former massage parlour tycoon Chuwit Kamolvisit, who urged the Justice Ministry and the police to investigate money laundering by Chinese crime bosses in “grey businesses” in the country.

After the successful raid, the police expanded their investigation and searched 38 other premises, where police seized five luxury cars and 19 million baht in cash from four Chinese nationals who they believe are involved in criminal activities. Their target was Chen Yang, a Chinese national who was reported to be Tuhao’s business partner.

The police didn’t stop there, raiding Club One Pattaya in Chon Buri’s Muang district soon after, where they also found a large cache of illegal drugs, and Top One Club in Bangkok’s Sutthisan neigbourhood, where a Chinese tourist reportedly had a couple of drinks before dying of a drug overdose in September.

Four people were arrested in those raids. Police found out that one of the owners of the pub was a Chinese national, which meant it was in breach of the Foreign Business Act 1999.

The owners have also been charged with operating an entertainment venue without permission. Police believe all the raided pubs in Bangkok and Pattaya are linked to Mr Chaiyanat, said Pol Gen Surachate.

Pol Gen Surachate told the Bangkok Post that such businesses have proliferated in Thailand after Beijing launched its own crackdown on criminal businesses a few years back. Many had initially moved to Cambodia, but Phnom Penh’s subsequent crackdowns pushed many into Thailand.

According to the investigation, such businesses were able to take root in Thailand with the aid of several politicians, which include a former cabinet minister who allegedly played a key role by acting as a middleman between criminals and corrupt police.

Pol Gen Surachate, however, stopped short of revealing any names, though he promised to announce a breakthrough in the case within the next three weeks.

Immigration officers, he said, were also involved, collecting “tea money” from crooks who wish to get their visas extended. “Some were found to have granted student visas to people who are 50-60 years old,” he said.

Police are investigating the financial transactions of these Chinese criminals to find any links to police and politicians. Those who are involved with such activities will also be arrested, he said.

When asked about Tuhao’s case, Pol Gen Surachate said the police are preparing to ask the Ministry of Interior to revoke his Thai citizenship due to the crimes he committed in Thailand, particularly drug-related.

After the offender is prosecuted under Thai laws, he will be extradited to China along with other Chinese nationals who are involved.

As Tuhao is known to have made a three-million-baht donation to the Palang Pracharath Party, a probe will be launched into the legality of the donation, he said,

Pol Gen Surachate said the police have also taken action against other Chinese criminal groups associated with shady businesses in the country.

Police have also arrested Shui Tai Wei, alias David, who operates the Baby Face pub in Sutthisan district, which doubled as a drug den and Yu Chang Fei, who opened the Club One Pattaya pub.

With regards to a suspected Chinese crime boss who goes by the name of “Tony”, police are investigating his attempts to build relations with Thai politicians to land procurement projects during the Covid-19 pandemic. He reportedly owns SP pub in Bangkok, which allegedly had a secret door for Chinese patrons.

The other Chinese crime ringleader under police watch operated the Top One pub in the Ratchada area. Its owner, known as Ming, fled the country.

Pol Gen Surachate also said legal actions have been taken against three police officers over their involvement in criminal enterprises.

The first policeman is Pol Lt Col Komprai Thonglad, deputy superintendent of traffic police at Lat Phrao station, for bribery in an attempt to lead judicial officers, prosecutors or investigators to commit misconduct.

Two other police — Pol Maj Kiatisak Pimma and Pol Capt Somyot Bunnakaew — were inspectors at Yannawa station. The pair face charges including bribery and malfeasance in office.

Police are also preparing to proceed with a criminal case against Pol Col Nattapol Komintarachat, deputy commander at Metropolitan Police Division 6, who is accused of demanding money in exchange for the release of a luxury car seized during a Bangkok pub raid.

On Nov 24, Pol Col Nattapol was transferred to an inactive post at Metropolitan Police Bureau (MPB), while MPB commissioner Pol Lt Gen Thiti Saengsawang was assigned to supervise the probe.

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