Military mafia controlling Patpong rental space caught by military & police taking money from vendors in hotel lobby.
The so-called Patpong Bazaar is tightly controlled on rents and space, and vendors say a military mafia is behind the extortion. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
Police have laid extortion charges against army Maj Gen Jennarong "Seh James" Dechawan and four alleged accomplices accusing them of demanding bribes from Patpong street vendors.
Watch vendors were allegedly each forced to pay 10,000 baht per month to the suspects. Stalls selling bags and leather products were required to pay 5,000 baht each, while stalls selling miscellaneous goods had to fork out 2,000 baht each. The money, totalling 700,000 baht per month, was allegedly divided among officials working in 12 agencies.
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A group of Patpong market vendors on Thursday defended a general accused of extorting money from them, claiming Maj Gen Jennarong Dechawan, also known as Seh James, had helped end bribes to influential locals, not taken bribes himself. They said he'd been protecting them for the past two months, which angered the established bribe takers, who set the NCPO on him.
Vendors said they were glad to pay earlier protection money. But, so many officials from various agencies - including the police - started demanding money, the amount they had to pay kept growing. They'd paid bribes of 2,000 baht to employ an alien worker. However, that figure had recently doubled to 4,000 baht. After Seh James got involved, they didn't have to pay their protection money anymore.
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General held in Patpong bust
The Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and the military detained an army general and four civilians in a sting operation yesterday for allegedly extorting money from vendors at Patpong, Bangkok's best known night entertainment strip on Silom Road.
Lt Col Burin Thongpraphai, a staff judge advocate, brought Maj Gen Jennarong Dechawan, also known as Seh James, to CSD headquarters yesterday.
The four civilians were also nabbed following complaints from vendors that the five had extorted cash from them.
The four were arrested after they allegedly received 2,000 baht in cash from a group of vendors in the lobby of the Tawanna Bangkok Hotel on Surawongse Road early yesterday in a sting operation organised by the military and local police.
Maj Gen Jennarong, 55, an expert attached to the office of the permanent secretary for defence, was among the suspects who showed up in the lobby of the hotel early yesterday, police said.
Maj Gen Jennarong's police mug shot: He denied any wrongdoing.
Maj Gen Jennarong denied the allegation.
He said he was present in the lobby to receive complaints from the vendors who asked him to help solve the extortion problem being carried out by an alleged mafia group.
The civilians were identified as Nongnuch Sitthirat, 44, Panthong Siriwan, 40, Janthima Chotekittikasem, 44, and Surat Phoomphuang, 46.
Relatives of Maj Gen Jennarong arrived at the CSD later and told police that they believe the officer was set up.
Maj Gen Jennarong was initially questioned at Bang Rak and then taken to the CSD.
CSD commander Prasopchoke said Maj Gen Jennarong and the other suspects were accused of extorting money from vendors in the Patpong area.
The arrest yesterday complied with the National Council for Peace and Order’s (NCPO's) policy to try and eradicate such problems nationwide.
Under martial law, the civilians will be detained by the CSD.
Maj Gen Jennarong will be held separately at an undisclosed military compound for a period of seven days, Pol Col Prasopchoke said.
The military then will decide if there is enough evidence to press charges, he said.
Pol Col Prasopchoke said the five would be treated fairly.
Learn from listening
Click "play" to listen to Update2: Patpong bust: 700,000 baht a month to officials in 12 agencies and "Download" to keep this file for educational purpose.
accomplice: a person who helps someone else to commit a crime or to do something morally wrong - ผู้สมรู้ร่วมคิด
accuse: to say that someone has done something wrong or committed a crime - กล่าวหา
accused: to be said to have done something wrong or committed a crime - ถูกกล่าวหา
agency: a government department that provides a particular service - หน่วยงานราชการ
alien: a foreigner; someone who is not a citizen of the country where they are living or staying - คนต่างด้าว
allegation: an accusation; a statement that someone has done something wrong or illegal even though this has not been proved - ข้อกล่าวหา
alleged: claimed to be true, even though this has not yet been proved - ที่กล่าวหา
allegedly: claimed to have done something wrong, but not yet proven - ที่กล่าวหา
arrest: (of the police or, in this case, soldiers) to take someone under control because they are believed to have committed a crime - จับกุม
bazaar: a street or an area of a town where there are many small shops - ตลาดที่ขายของหลากหลายชนิด
bribe: money or a present given to someone so that they will help you doing something dishonest or illegal - สินบน
bust: to arrest someone, especially for offences relating to drugs -
cash: money - เงินสด
charge: to accuse someone officially of committing a crime - ตั้งข้อกล่าวหา
civilians: people who are not members of the police or armed forces - พลเรือน
claim: saying that something is true although it has not been proved and other people may not believe it - ข้ออ้าง ข้อกล่าวหา
commander: a police officer of high rank - ผู้บังคับบัญชา
complaint: when someone says that something is wrong or not satisfactory - การบ่น, ข้อที่ไม่พอใจ
comply: to obey a rule, law, agreement, etc. or do what someone asks you to do - ปฏิบัติตาม (กฎหมาย, ข้อเสนอ, ข้อตกลง etc.)
compound: an area enclosed by a fence or wall in which people work or live - บริเวณ
Crime Suppression Division (CSD): a national police department responsible for conducting most of the technical investigations of criminal offenses - กองบังคับการปราบปราม
defend: to protect somebody/something from attack - ป้องกัน,ต้าน,พิทักษ์
demand: a very firm request for something - ข้อเรียกร้อง, การเรียกร้อง
demand: to ask for something very firmly - เรียกร้อง, ต้องการ
deny: to say that something is not true or does not exist - ปฏิเสธ
deny: to say that something is not true - ปฏิเสธ
detained: kept in a place and not allowed to leave - กักตัว ควบคุมตัวหรือฝากขัง
double: to become twice as big, twice as much or twice as many - เพิ่มเป็นสองเท่า
entertainment: fun; behaviour or activities that are not serious but come from a sense of enjoyment - ความบันเทิง, ความสนุกสนาน
eradicate: to get rid of completely or destroy something bad - กำจัดจนหมดสิ้น
established: be in a successful position over a long period of time - มีตำแหน่งที่มั่นคง
evidence: facts statements or objects that help to prove whether or not someone has committed a crime - หลักฐาน
extort: to try to illegally obtain something by force or threat - รีดไถ
extortion: the crime of trying to obtain something by force or threat - การขู่กรรโชก รีดไถ
fairly: to some degree, but not completely or extremely - พอควร
figure: an amount of money - จำนวนเงิน
force: making someone do something that they don't want to do - การบังคับ
fork out: (informal) to spend money on something, often when you do not want to or because it is more than you can really afford to pay - จ่ายเงิน, ไม่เต็มใจจ่ายให้ (เงิน)
general: an officer of very high rank in the army, the air force or the marines - พลเอก, นายพล
headquarters: the place where an organisation or company has its main offices - กองบัญชาการ
identified: named, said to be - ระบุ, ระบุชื่อ
influential: of a person or group who has the power to affect a situation - มีอิทธิพล
initially: at first - ในเบื้องต้น
lobby: a large area inside the entrance of a public building where people can meet and wait - ห้องโถง,ทางเข้า, ซุ้มประตู, ห้องรับรอง
locals: people who live in a particular place - ชาวบ้าน
martial law: direct control of an area or country by the armed forces - กฎอัยการศึก
military: connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
mug shot: a photograph of someone's face, taken by the police for their records -
nabbed: caught or arrested - ถูกจับ, โดนจับกุม
nationwide: throughout a whole country - ทั่วทั้งประเทศ
officials: people who have the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
operation: a planned activity involving a lot of people, especially soldiers or police officers - การปฏิบัติการ
present: being in a particular place or situation - เข้าร่วม, อยู่
press: to try in a determined way to make someone do something - ผลักดัน, บังคับ, รบเร้า, กระตุ้น
protection money: money that criminals take from people in exchange for agreeing not to hurt them or damage their property -
question: when the police asks a person questions in the investigation of a crime -
relative: a member of your family - ญาติพี่น้อง
rent: paying money for the use of something for a period of time - ค่าเช่า
separately: not together; as a separate person or thing - ต่างหาก; เป็นรายบุคคล
set up: to arrange a situation so that someone is blamed for doing something, especially something illegal - ใส่ร้าย หาความร้ายป้ายผู้อื่นให้ได้รับความเสียหาย
so-called: used for saying that a particular word is usually used for referring to someone or something - ที่เป็นที่รู้กัน
space: an area or a place that is empty or that can be moved about freely - ที่ว่าง
stall: a large table or a small building that is open at the front, used for selling things (or for giving people information) - รถ หรือแผงขายของ
sting: a trick prepared by police to catch criminals -
street vendor: someone who sells goods informally in public places - คนหาบเร่,คนเร่ขายของ
strip: a long narrow area of land, sea, etc - พื้นที่แคบยาว
suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย
undisclosed: not reported publicly - ไม่เปิดเผย
various: several different - หลากหลาย, ซึ่งแตกต่างกัน
vendors: people who sell things, e.g., food or newspapers, usually outside on the street - พ่อค้าแม่่ค้าหาบแร่แผงลอย
wrongdoer: a person who breaks the law or does something "wrong" - ผู้กระทำผิดศีลธรรม, ผู้ละเมิดกฎหมาย
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