A manhunt has been launched for a suspect in a major car smuggling racket worth more than 100 million baht who broke out of a police station in Udon Thani early yesterday.
TAKING A BREAK: Police inspect an iron bar in a visitation room which was cut open early yesterday in Udon Thani police station to allow car smuggling suspect Anek Ngernsuwan to escape. PHOTOS: YUTTAPONG KUMNODNAE
Anek Ngernsuwan, 37, a suspect in numerous car smuggling and swindling cases, cut through an iron bar in a visitation room in Udon Thani police station at about 5am while a police officer on duty was sleeping.
A metal file was used to cut through the bottom of a steel bar which was then bent to one side. Mr Anek then slipped through the gap.
Pol Col Kowit Charoenwattasak, the station chief, said a police team has been set up to hunt for the suspect.
He has also set up a disciplinary panel to investigate whether Pol Snr Sgt Maj Rachet Phumjae and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Thongdao Sunarat helped the suspect escape.
They will face disciplinary and criminal charges if they are found to have been involved, Pol Col Kowit said.
Pol Snr Sgt Maj Thongdao said he and Pol Snr Sgt Maj Rachet were on duty guarding the cells overnight. However, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Rachet had gone out leaving him to keep watch alone.
At about midnight, Mr Anek's wife Patthima Pornkasem arrived at the police station to visit her husband.
Pol Snr Sgt Maj Thongdao said he allowed her to visit Mr Anek for 20 minutes. The two met in a visitation room next to the cell, which is secured with iron bars.
After his wife had left, Mr Anek refused to go back to his cell, claiming it was too hot.
Pol Snr Sgt Maj Thongdao said the suspect asked him if he could sleep in the visitation room, which he allowed.
At about 4.30am, he said, he felt sleepy and took a nap for about 30 minutes. After he woke up, he discovered the bent iron bar in the visitation room and saw Mr Anek had escaped.
The bar had been cut through with a file police believe was brought into the room by Mr Anek's wife.
Pol Col Kowit said witnesses saw a white Mazda sedan pick up Mr Anek outside the police station moments after he had broken out of the cell.
Immigration checkpoints, particularly those in nearby provinces, have been alerted as police believe Mr Anek might try to flee to Laos.
Police records show Mr Anek was suspected of being a leading figure in a car smuggling ring that had slipped more than 100 cars into neighbouring Laos.
The racket had caused more than 100 million baht in damages.
Mr Anek was caught on Jan 17 and sent to Udon Thani police station for detention pending his trial. He was also suspected of organising illegal group sex parties.
About the author
- Writer: Yuttapong Kumnodnae