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Police suspected in exortion cases

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Pretending to be anti-drug police, active and former policemen have been robbing drug suspects and extorting money from them instead of bringing them to justice. 

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Pol Capt Thirarat Suwannawat, 38, centre, a deputy police inspector at Bang Yi Khan police station, has been arrested for allegedly forming a gang that poses as narcotics suppression officers and robs drug suspects. WASSAYOS NGAMKHAM

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Corrupt policemen prey on easy targets

Wassayos Ngamkham

Posing as members of Narcotics Suppression Bureau (NSB) squads, active duty and former policemen have been robbing drug suspects and extorting money from them instead of bringing them to justice.

Their illegal activity was exposed after some of their victims lodged a complaint with the police, leading to the arrest of one of the gangs.

Police said the complaint was filed by Prachak Choksiri, 28, and his wife Samitanan Chayayothinkun, 25, residents of Ruam Thang Fan Sena Villa housing estate in Pathum Thani's Lam Luk Ka district, on Oct 8.

The couple filed a complaint with Khu Kot police, saying their house was raided by a group of men who claimed they were narcotics police. They demanded to search the place for drugs.

Police said the gang blindfolded and tied up the couple before searching their house and forcing them to reveal their ATM password.

They made off with 1.6 million baht in cash and other assets including a pistol, four watches and an iPhone.

Pol Maj Gen Thawichat Phalasak, the investigation chief for Provincial Police Region 1, looked into the case himself after receiving the complaint and started hunting for the gang by checking the criminal records of robbers who had used similar methods.

His team eventually found a suspect identified as Sarawut Chuimuangsi, 44, who is wanted under an arrest warrant from the Provincial Police Region 2 for robbery.

A check of Mr Sarawut's phone records showed he had called Chuphong Sathongyot, 47, several times before the couple's house was robbed.

Investigators met Mr Chuphong in Phitsanulok and began questioning him to find out whether he was involved in the raid. Mr Chuphong eventually admitted to the wrongdoing, police said.

His account led to the arrest of three suspected gang members – Ekkarat Chumchuea, 25, Aniwat Rodet, 25, and Pol Capt Thirarat Suwannawat, 38, deputy inspector at Bang Yi Khan police station in Bangkok.

"Pol Capt Thirarat is called nai [boss] by the others [in the gang]," deputy national police chief Ek Angsananon said. "He devised the raids and divided stolen assets among the members."

Pol Capt Thirarat used to be an officer of the NSB while Mr Sarawut, who is still at large, is his friend and was also once an informant for the officer, according to investigators.

Pol Capt Thirarat, whose previous name is Wirat Thongyu, was suspended from the force in 2010 after being accused of extortion. The court later dropped the charge and he resumed his work as an inspector at Thammasala police station in Bangkok before being transferred to work as Bang Yi Khan's deputy police inspector.

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deputy – a person whose rank is immediately below that of the leader of an organisation รอง
inspector – an official whose job is to check that things are in the correct condition or that people are doing what they should ผู้ตรวจสอบ
arrested – caught by the police and taken to a police station because you are believed to have committed a crime ถูกจับกุม
allegedly – claimed to have done something wrong, but not yet proven ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
pose – to pretend to be something วางท่า
narcotics – illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine or crystal methamphetamine  ยาเสพย์ติด
suppression – stopping an activity from happening, in this case, criminal activity  การปราบปราม
rob – to take money or property illegally from a person or place, often using threats or violence ปล้น, ปล้นจี้
suspect – a person who is thought to have committed a crime ผู้ต้องสงสัย
prey on – to hurt or deceive a group of people, especially people who are weak or can easily be hurt or deceived หาเหยื่อ
target – to deliberately try to attack someone or something ตั้งเป็นเป้าหมาย
squad – a small group of police or soldiers who do a particular job หน่วยพิเศษ
active duty – currently working as a member of the police or armed services
extort –to try to illegally obtain something by force or threat  รีดไถ
bring to justice – to put someone on trial in a court of law นำตัวมาดำเนินคดีตามกฎหมาย
illegal – against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
exposed – made known; uncovered เปิดเยต่อ
victim – someone who has been harmed, injured or killed as the result of a crime เหยื่อผู้เคราะห์ร้าย
lodge a complaint – file a complaint; to make a formal statement to someone in authority that someone has done something wrong ยื่นคำร้อง
housing estate – residential estate; an area containing a large number of houses or apartments built close together at the same time บ้านจัดสรร
couple – two people who are married or are involved in a romantic relationship คู่แต่งงานกัน, คุ่รัก
raid – to use force to enter a place suddenly in order to arrest people or search for something such as illegal weapons or drugs บุกเข้าจับ, เข้าตรวจค้น
claim – to say that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it อ้าง
demand – to ask for something very firmly เรียกร้อง, ต้องการ
search – to look somewhere carefully in order to find something ค้นหา
blindfold – to put something over somebody's eyes so they cannot see เอาผ้าปิดตา, เอาผ้าผูกตา
tie up – to tie somebody's arms and legs tightly with a rope or something similar so that they cannot move or escape มัดด้วยเชือก
reveal – to let something become known เปิดเผย
cash – money เงินสด
assets – things owned, especially property and money สินทรัพย์
pistol – a small gun that you hold in one hand ปืนพก,ปืนสั้น
investigation – the process of trying to find out all the details or facts about something การสอบสวน
hunt – to look for somebody in order to catch them or harm them; to chase wild animals or birds in order to catch or kill them for food, sport or to make money ตามหา, ล่า
criminal – illegal; against the law ผิดกฎหมาย, นอกกฎหมาย
record – a written account of something that is kept so that it can be looked at and used in the future บันทึก, รายงาน
method – a particular way of doing something วิธีการ,วิธีดำเนินการ
eventually – at the end of a period of time or at the end of a process ในที่สุด
suspect – a person who is thought to have committed a crime ผู้ต้องสงสัย
identified – named  ระบุชื่อ
arrest warrant – a document signed by a judge allowing police to arrest someone หมายจับ
robbery – the crime of stealing money or goods from a bank, shop/store, person, etc  การปล้น, การโจรกรรม
involved – taking part or having a role in something เกี่ยวข้อง
admit – to agree that something is true, especially when you are unhappy, sorry or surprised about it  ยอมรับ
account – a written or spoken report about something that has happened การอธิบาย
devise – to invent a method of doing something คิดขึ้นใหม่
at large – not having been caught by the police ลอยนวล, ยังไม่ถูกจับกุม
informant – someone who secretly gives information about someone to the police or someone in authority ผู้ให้ข้อมูล, ผู้บอก, ผู้แจ้ง
suspected – thought to have done something wrong เป็นที่สงสัย
(police) force – the police organisation of a country, district or town ตำรวจ
extortion – the crime of trying to obtain something by force or threat การขู่กรรโชก  รีดไถ
charge – an official statement accusing someone of committing a crime ข้อหา
resume – to begin again after stopping for a period of time  เริ่มอีกครั้ง, กลับมาอีกครั้ง
transfer – to change someone’s job or responsibilities โยกย้ายตำแหน่ง

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