Aussie held, suspected of involvement in transnational crime

Aussie held, suspected of involvement in transnational crime

Australian Samuel James Norton Cook, second left, at Muang police station in Nakhon Si Thammarat after his arrest. (Photo: Nujaree Rakrun)
Australian Samuel James Norton Cook, second left, at Muang police station in Nakhon Si Thammarat after his arrest. (Photo: Nujaree Rakrun)

NAKHON SI THAMMARAT: An Australian man was arrested in Muang district of this southern province on Monday night by members of the Armed Forces Security Centre of the Royal Thai Armed Forces Command for suspected involvement in transnational crime in Phuket.

The arrest was made with cooperation from local immigration and patrol police.

Samuel James Norton Cook, 47, was detained after the Bangkok-registered Toyota sedan he was driving was stopped at the entry to Pratulod community in tambon Nai Muang, Muang district, on Monday night.

A search of the vehicle found a passport with an entry visa that expired more than a year ago, and a fake driver's licence.

Speaking through an interpreter, Mr Cook said he was visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat township on business.

An officer who took part in the arrest said security agencies had been keeping a close watch on Mr Cook, who was suspected of involvement in the drug trade and entertainment  businesses in Phuket.

Mr Cook was also alleged to have procured Thai women for foreigners linked to a transnational criminal gang in Phuket.

About three months ago, Mr Cook rented a car from a shop in Phuket which also provided him with a fake driver's licence, the officer alleged.

Mr Cook then moved to Nakhon Si Thammarat. Over the past three months he had stayed at four different hotels and resorts. He mostly stayed in his room during the day and drove out in the car at night, the officer said.

Mr Cook was initially held on a charge of overstaying his visa while the investigation into his suspected criminal activities continued. 

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