Police: Gambling boss of the East arrested

Police: Gambling boss of the East arrested

Police arrest Somchai Jutikitdet, centre, at his house in Rayong province on Thursday morning. (Police photo)
Police arrest Somchai Jutikitdet, centre, at his house in Rayong province on Thursday morning. (Police photo)

Police arrested a man in Rayong province on Thursday morning believed to be a major operator of illegal casinos in the East that were blamed for spreading Covid-19.

Police were also hunting four other men and women, his associates, named in arrest warrants. 

The arrest follows the seizure of hundreds of poker machines at a warehouse in Khon Kaen last month. 

Crime Suppression Division police detained Somchai Jutikitdet, aka Longjoo Somchai, at his house in tambon Muang Phra in Muang district of Rayong. He was taken to the Provincial Police Region 2 head office for interrogation.

Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk, the naional police chief,  and other senior officers went there to question the 56-year-old man themselves.

Rayong was an epicentre of the second wave of Covid-19 wave in December. Health officials said the disease was spread through illegal casinos in the province and in adjacent Chon Buri province.

Since Dec 18 last year, Rayong has logged 580 Covid-19 cases and Chon Buri 649.

Mr Somchai was among five suspects sought on Thursday when police raided 10 locations in the eastern province to suppress an illegal gambling network.

Other suspects were identified as Noi Wongniyom, 74, Rudee sae Ngow, 57, Alisa Jaengsawang, 50, and Damrong sae Ngow, 50. Police said they were Mr Somchai’s followers. They were still at large.

The police operation followed the seizure of 418 slot machines from a warehouse in tambon Phra Lab of Muang district in the northeastern province of Khon Kaen last month.

Police said the machines were most likely hidden there by a major gambling network that had learned the government intended to move against illegal gambling in the East.

A police source said the bank accounts of the suspects showed transactions totalling tens of millions of baht. They had frequently obtained coins to be used in their slot machines. 

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