Beer heist 'killers' arrested

KHON KAEN - Police say they have arrested the hijackers who killed the driver of a trailer truck and heisted more than 2,500 cartons of beer in Nam Phong district.

Dej Sopawee (blue shirt) confessed of hijacking a beer trailer truck and killed the driver.

The alleged killers were identified as Dej Sowapee, 26, and Chokchai Yonglert, 37. Police also seized a pickup truck they said was used in take away the stolen beer, and said they had recovered a total of 462 cases of beer  from buyers.

Pol Lt Gen Kawi Supanand, commissioner of provincial police region 4, said on Monday that Mr Dej is accused of killing Somkwuan Laman, a truck driver employed by Thun and Thee Transport Co.

Somkwuan was delivering 2,520 cartons of Leo beer worth 1.19 million baht to customers in Sakon Nakhon when his truck was hijacked. His body was found on June 21.

The company reported the missing truck to police, who tracked the installed GPS system.

Pol Lt Gen Kawi said police found the vehicle's discarded GPS box at the roadside near a fueling station. They reviewed the petrol station's security camera pictures and identified the suspects' pickup truck.

The investigators then tracked the pickup truck owner, leading to the arrest of Mr Dej. Mr Chokchai was arrested in Chachoengsao on other charges, but was involved in this case too, police said.

Mr Dej confessed to the murder-theft, according to Pol Lt-Gen Kawi.

He said he had previously worked as a trailer truck driver for a rival company and so knew about the beer distribution process and was familiar with all transportation routes.

Pl Lt-Gen Kawi said Mr Dej teamed up with Mr Chokchai to befriend Somkwuan and have dinner together. He gave Somkwuan a methamphetamne pill and encouraged him to drink alcohol until he was drunk.

Mr Dej then volunteered to go with Somkwuan to help drive the truck. When they reach the Khon Kaen - Kalasin bypass road, they decided to stop the truck.

Some of beers recovered from buyers.

Mr Dej then hit Somkwuan on the head with wooden stick, rendering him unconscious.

After that Mr Dej called Mr Chokchai and his associates to drive the trailer truck away from the scene. They unloaded all the beer and sold it to distributors and retailers at 250 baht a carton, reaping about 600,000 baht.

Mr Dej admitted he was afraid that Somkwuan would regain consciousness and go to the police, according to Pol Lt-Gen Kawi. So he hit Somkwuan on the head another three times with a rock, and then tied his hands and feet before dumping his body.

After selling all the beer and distributing the money among the other gang members, Mr Dej said he contacted a "big" man in the Northeast before fleeing. He said the motive for the crime was his need to repay a large debt.

Pol Col Pongrit Kongsirisombat, superintendent of Khon Kaen police station said Mr Dej's account was useful.

The two arrested men were charged with premeditated murder and attempting to destroy or hide the body, and theft, he said.

Related search: crime, murder, robbery, beer heist

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