Koh Samui mafia crackdown: More tourist centers next

Koh Samui mafia crackdown: More tourist centers next

After CCTV cameras reveal all, local politician & businessman confess, arms cache seized, nationwide crackdown next.

Elite police units guard men arrested during the raids on Koh Samui. (Photos by Wassayos Ngamkam)


Police eye tourist centre crime after Koh Samui raid success

Mafia problems on resort islands were worrying, say authorities
Wassayos Ngamkham

The success of crackdowns on criminal gangs operating on the resort island of Koh Samui last week has encouraged police to expand their list of targets to include more tourist destinations nationwide.

Acting chief of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) Thitirat Nonghanpitak led about 300 police together with military forces in a dawn operation on the resort island on Friday.

A combined team of 756 police and military raided 26 spots believed to be the hideouts of powerful people or criminals.

They arrested five suspects and confiscated 20 guns and 835 rounds of ammunition as well as three kilogrammes of kratom, a narcotic plant.

The decision to look into criminal cases on the island came after local businessman Panas Kao-uthai, 49, was gunned down in a restaurant early this month, apparently as a result of business conflicts among so-called influential figures on the island.

His death frightened villagers and caused panic on the island, which is Thailand's top tourist destination.

There was a concern that the high level of crime on the island was tarnishing its reputation as a safe tourist destination. Authorities were urged to speed up their probe into the murder.

During the operation, there was a search for the gunman who killed Panas, who was still at large.

Finally, last Friday night, Charoen Sisaeng, the suspected gunman, turned himself in to police for fear of being killed during the crackdown.

One day before the officers launched the raid, four other suspects in the killing were arrested: Samart Boonsin, an alleged local influential figure; Chanai Sooksom, a former local politician; Chalit Boonsa, a businessman; and Chayut Kaewaram, another suspected gunman.

The fleeing killers were caught on security CCTV cameras which made catching them easier.

The investigators learned that there were two gunmen, one of them being Mr Chayut, seen entering Mr Samart's house.

What most attracted the police's attention were allegations that Mr Samart had been at odds with Panas.

The officers nabbed Mr Chayut while he was about to take a ferry to leave the island.

Police said the Ratchaburi native initially denied involvement in the murder plot, but he later confessed after police backed their accusation with security camera footage.

His confession brought police to identify another alleged gunman, Mr Charoen.

Police believe business conflicts in various projects with Mr Panas led to the murder. The three suspects denied being involved.

The investigation revealed Panas and the suspects, who are business operators, were arguing over real estate projects and revenues from a trade fair on a pedestrian street in tambon Bo Phut.

Their conflict was so severe they allegedly threatened to kill one another.

The investigators believed the three suspects hired gunmen to kill Mr Panas because they were worried many local businesses would end up in the hands of Mr Panas who had good connections with investors outside the island.

This deadly conflict alerted the police to other mafia problems in Koh Samui, so a crackdown was ordered on criminal activities, also as a response to tourist concern about a rising crime rate on the island.

The coming  nationwide crackdown on mafia figures will involve raids on target areas as well as moving to block financial transactions of mafia suspects.

In the Koh Samui operation, police from the Economic Crime Suppression Division and Technology Crime Suppression Division (CSD) were ordered to inspect the suspects' mobile phones, computers, and business tax information to look for any irregularities.

Contact Crime Track: crimetrack@bangkokpost.co.th


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  • acting: doing the work of the usual person in a particular job while they are not there, or until a new person starts - ที่รักษาการแทน
  • adj (noun): connected with soldiers or the armed forces - ในทางทหาร,เกี่ยวกับทหาร
  • alleged: claimed to be true although not yet proven; claimed to have done something wrong but not yet proven - ที่ถูกกล่าวหา
  • ammunition: bullets, bombs, etc that can be fired from a weapon - อาวุธยุทธภัณฑ์, ลูกกระสุน
  • apparently: based only on what you have heard or think, not on what you are certain is true; seemingly - ตามที่ได้รู้มา
  • arrest: (of the police or, in this case, soldiers) to take someone under control because they are believed to have committed a crime - จับกุม
  • as a result of: because of -
  • at large: not having been caught by the police - ลอยนวล, ยังไม่ถูกจับกุม
  • at odds with: disagreeing with - ไม่เห็นด้วยกับ
  • authority (noun): a person or government agency who has the power to make decisions or enforce the law - เจ้าหน้าที่ผู้มีอำนาจ
  • case: a matter that is being officially investigated, especially by the police - คดี
  • CCTV: a television system that works within a limited area, for example a public building, to observe what is happening there and often to protect it from crime - โทรทัศน์วงจรปิด (ซีซีทีวี)
  • Central Investigation Bureau: a national police agency coordinating and assisting the work of provincial and city police components. - กองบัญชาการตำรวจสอบสวนกลาง
  • concern: a worry - ความกังวล
  • confiscated: officially taken away as a punishment - ยึดทรัพย์
  • conflict: an angry disagreement between people or groups - ความขัดแย้ง
  • criminal: relating to illegal acts - เกี่ยวกับอาชญากรรม
  • criminal: someone who has committed a crime, i.e., someone who has carried out an illegal activity or action - ผู้ที่ทำผิดกฎหมาย
  • dawn: the beginning of the day, when it begins to get light - รุ่งอรุณ, เช้าตรู่
  • decision (noun): a choice or judgement that you make after thinking and talking about what is the best thing to do - การตัดสินใจ
  • destination: the place where someone or something is going - จุดหมายปลายทาง
  • elite: of a highly trained group - ซึ่งดีที่สุด, ยอดเยี่ยมที่สุด
  • eye (verb): to consider carefully; to look at someone or something carefully - พิจารณา, มองดู
  • flee: to leave a place or person quickly because you are afraid of possible danger - หนี อพยพ
  • guard: to watch a place carefully to protect someone from attack, to prevent something from being stolen, or to prevent someone from escaping - เฝ้ายาม, ดูแล, รักษาความปลอดภัย
  • gun down (verb): to shoot somebody, especially killing or seriously injuring them - ยิง
  • gunman: a hired killer; a person hired to kill with a gun; a hitman - มือปืน
  • hideout: a place where somebody goes when they do not want anyone to find them - สถานที่หลบภัย (โดยเฉพาะกับพวกที่ตำรวจต้องการตัว)
  • influential figure: a person who has the power to affect a situation, especially in a bad way - ผู้มีอิทธิพล
  • local: in or related to the area that you live, or to the particular area that you are talking about - ท้องถิ่น
  • narcotics: illegal drugs such as heroin, cocaine or crystal methamphetamine - ยาเสพย์ติด
  • operation: a business activity - การดำเนินการทางธุรกิจ
  • operation: a planned activity involving a lot of people, especially soldiers or police officers - การปฏิบัติการ
  • panic: a sudden strong feeling of fear or worry that causes you to be unable to think clearly or calmly - ความตื่นตกใจ
  • politician: a person whose job is concerned with politics, especially as an elected member of parliament, etc. - นักการเมือง
  • probe: an attempt to find out the truth about an issue, problem or accident, made by an official group (or by the media); an investigation - การตรวจสอบ  การสอบสวน
  • raid: to forcefully and suddenly enter a place to catch criminals or to search for something like drugs - ใช้กำลังเข้าค้นสถานที่หรือ จับกุมคนร้าย
  • 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
  • reputation: the opinion people have about how good or bad someone or something is - ชื่อเสียง
  • round: a bullet or a shot that is fired from a weapon - นัด(กระสุน) ชุดยิง
  • security: protection; systems providing for safety from attack, harm, or damage - ระบบรักษาความปลอดภัย
  • so-called: used for saying that a particular word is usually used for referring to someone or something - ที่เป็นที่รู้กัน
  • speed up (verb): make go faster -
  • spot: the particular place where someone or something is - ที่, สถานที่
  • suspect: a person who is thought to have committed a crime - ผู้ต้องสงสัย
  • suspected: thought to be something - เป็นที่สงสัย
  • tarnish: to spoil; to make people have a worse opinion of you than they did before - ทำให้เสื่อมเสีย
  • turned himself in: surrendered - ยอมจำนน
  • unit: a part of a company or organisation that carries out a particular function; a group of people who work or live together, especially for a particular purpose - หน่วย,กอง,กลุ่ม
  • urge: to advise someone very strongly about what action or attitude they should take - ผลักดัน, กระตุ้น
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