3 arrested in blitz on foreign cons

3 arrested in blitz on foreign cons

Trio fled warrants in their home countries

Acting Immigration Bureau chief Sompong Chingduang (left) listens during a press briefing about the arrest of transnational criminal suspects and illegal foreign masseurs at his headquarters on Friday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)
Acting Immigration Bureau chief Sompong Chingduang (left) listens during a press briefing about the arrest of transnational criminal suspects and illegal foreign masseurs at his headquarters on Friday. (Photo by Apichart Jinakul)

Three alleged transnational criminals, including a Chinese man accused of being involved in an illegal online gambling operation worth over 2 billion baht, have been apprehended in a police crackdown on criminals using Thailand to evade arrest in their own countries.

The suspects were identified as Chinese, Czech and Finnish nationals facing various charges.

Chinese authorities had identified a total of 18 suspects for running illegal gambling operations and arrested them all, except Zhang Yifei who managed to escape to Thailand via what acting Immigration Bureau chief Sompong Chingduang called a "natural route".

He did not detail what province the 32-year-old sneaked in through, but investigators found clues that led to his hideout after being asked by Chinese police for help.

Mr Zhang was found at a food shop in Phuket on June 11.

The Czech, identified as David Sykora, had fled an arrest warrant issued by a court in Prague.

The 38-year-old was convicted of committing many robberies including burgling gift shops. In one case, he was sentenced to 34 months in jail, according to immigration police who found him on Monday.

The last suspect is 39-year-old Finnish national, Aki Petri Johannes Vartiainen, who worked as a weight training coach.

Finnish officers charged the man with possessing narcotics and selling prohibited hormones and growth-stimulating substances to his customers, investigators said.

The suspect was given a jail term of about 24 months but managed to escape to Thailand. He was apprehended on Wednesday.

Pol Lt Gen Sompong on Friday called for improved biometric screening of arrivals as current equipment at passport checkpoints "can't link with the [criminal] database".

He added that flaws in the system enable criminal suspects to be granted permission to enter Thailand. One such Chinese convict, Yunyong He, had been able to enter and exit Thailand several times despite being blacklisted, he admitted.

The man, jailed for 11 months in Thailand on a forgery charge before his deportation in 2016, recently returned to the country under the name "An He".

It wasn't until officers manually compared his photo with the one in the database that they learned he has earlier been blacklisted, said Pol Lt Gen Sompong.


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