Five officials from the Thai Excise Department have been accused of extortion after allegedly demanding money from an elderly grocer. The woman asserts that the men planted evidence in order to shake her down, and says she’s got CCTV footage proving the extortion claims
The men, who claimed to have found counterfeit cigarettes on the premises, demanded 20,000 baht from the victim in exchange for letting her slide and not charging her with contraband possession.
The shakedown took place on Monday, February 13 at a small retail store in the Sai Mai area of Bangkok. The men entered the shop without a warrant and took the old woman’s cigarettes into their van for a “check.” She alleges that they swapped her real product for counterfeit smoke in the van and then reemerged accusing her of possessing contraband.
CCTV footage from the store shows the five men searching around the premises for a long time, despite not having a warrant.
They then coerced the shopowner to get into their van. Inside they allegedly tried to extort money from her. Terrified, she agreed to pay 5,500 baht and the men dropped her off at her store and drove off.
The elderly grocer filed a complaint with the police, which quickly went viral on Thai media. The five men have since been confirmed as excise officials and will soon be summoned to acknowledge the extortion charges.
If found guilty, the men will be dismissed from service. Officials vowed severe legal consequences for their actions if confirmed, according to Thai media. The incident sparked outrage with commenters criticizing the officials for abusing their power.
Corruption and extortion have been on the rise amongst police and government officials. Last month the Royal Thai Police denied extorting money from Taiwanese actress Charlene An, but then a Thai squad leader from Huay Kwang Police Station in Bangkok later admitted that he did squeeze 27,000 baht from the Taiwanese actress.
And yesterday a story went viral about a Thai cop resigning from his job as his resignation letter made waves on social media. In the letter, which a fellow police officer posted on Facebook on Saturday, the officer cites “protection of the guilty” as one of the reasons for the loss of morale among police. Another reason is “neglect for honest officers,” Bangkok Post reported
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