The Metropolitan Police Bureau will endorse a crackdown on Chinese underhand dealings in Bangkok as the number of abduction and ransom cases is increasing.
The number of Chinese tourists to Thailand has increased since China lifted Covid travel curbs. Among legitimate tourists, some Chinese nationals have entered the kingdom to execute criminal activities such as abduction for ransom which, in some cases, leads to murder.
Pol Maj Gen Teeradej Thumsutee, the MPB's chief of investigations, talked to the Bangkok Post about how the Royal Thai Police is combating the trend.
He said the number of criminal activities correlates with the number of Chinese tourists arriving in Thailand after the government eased Covid-19 travel restrictions.
Since Feb 6, the Chinese government has allowed its nationals to travel in groups via travel agencies. According to the government's public relations department, over 300,000 Chinese nationals flocked to Thailand in the first quarter of 2023. Some criminals came with them, said Pol Maj Gen Teeradej.
He mentioned five major cases which have taken place in Bangkok or in the jurisdiction of the MPB.
On March 10, four immigration police abducted a Chinese man and a Thai woman who was his interpreter.
The pair said they were abducted by four immigration police from a house in the Din Daeng area and taken via a car to a house in Soi Pracha Songkhroh 2, also in Din Daeng.
There, immigration police allegedly extorted from them US$30,000, in the Tether stablecoin pegged to the US dollar.
On March 16, three Chinese nationals were arrested for abducting a Chinese graduate student and extorting about 3.3 million baht from her.
The victim had dinner with a Chinese suspect at a restaurant in the Ekamai area. After the meal, she was led to a car park where one Chinese man forced the victim at knifepoint into the vehicle. Another Chinese man was behind the wheel.
After the vehicle drove off, the man with the knife forced her to transfer RMB250,000 (1.2 million baht) and 8,000 cryptocurrency coins via her mobile phone, reports said.
On March 28, the abduction and murder of Jin Can, a 22-year-old student at Bangkok Thonburi University, took place in Nonthaburi.
The student was stabbed in the right shoulder five times and had a towel tied around her neck before her death, he said. The body was dumped in a sack in a plantation in Bang Yai district.
On April 14, Wang Nanfeng, 34, was abducted from a condominium in the Lumpini area of Pathumwan district.
The suspects are Petchlada Sangsakun, 24, her Thai boyfriend Supaphon Halman and four other people. They demanded a ransom of 3.9 million baht from the victim.
On April 16, Huang Ding Xuan, 30, was reported missing. Officers from Bang Phong Phang police station rescued him and found he had been abducted -- with the kidnappers demanding a ransom of 1.8 million baht -- from a hotel in Sathorn.
Even though some Chinese suspects fled Thailand before arrest warrants were issued, they were later extradited to Thailand to face legal proceedings.
Pol Maj Gen Teeradej said most Chinese offenders enter Thailand with tourist visas. They usually hatch their scheme with compatriots and approach potential victims via Chinese mobile apps such as WeChat.
The criminals keep in touch with victims until they learn their daily routine, financial situation and family background.
Most targeted victims are usually Chinese nationals whose families are considered wealthy by Chinese standards or people who hold a large amount of cash in their bank accounts as well as a high worth of cryptocurrency.
For example, the Chinese graduate subject to extortion had received a large amount of money from her family. They had recently been paid compensation for land expropriation.
"For accomplices who are Thai, they work as assistants who facilitate and provide accommodation such as hotels, vehicles or a spot to hide the abductee. The Thai offenders also provide criminal routes as well as escape routes out of Thailand," he added.
Pol Maj Gen Teeradej said government officials had been involved in some cases, issuing fake IDs or other documents.
National police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas has ordered the Immigration Bureau to work with Chinese officials to access a criminal database as part of the process for granting visas on arrival to Chinese nationals.
Thai police also will keep detailed records of Chinese tourists such as their hotel locations, destinations in Thailand and names of their companions. The records are accessible by local police to monitor high-risk areas where the number of Chinese tourists is high.
Pol Maj Gen Teeradej said police stations overseeing popular tourist spots have conducted regular patrols to collect data and plan measures to curb criminal activities.
The MPB also has installed security cameras across Bangkok, especially crowded spots and high-risk areas.
Pol Maj Gen Teeradej said police must endorse a crackdown on Chinese criminals before the offenders escalate into mafia gang activity.
"There will be a big crackdown on Chinese criminals in areas that are known to be their neighbourhoods such as Huai Kwang, Thong Lor or Makkasan," he added.
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