Hells Angels chief’s wings clipped in Bangkok bust: Fleeing Australia on fake wings

Picture courtesy of Thailand Immigration Bureau.

The Thailand Immigration Bureau (IB) swooped to arrest Hells Angels chief Rodrigo Elices who fled Australia on a false passport on charges of drug trafficking, smuggling and firearms at a luxury apartment in Bangkok. Thai officials revealed that Elices entered the country last month using an Italian passport with a suspected false identity.

Fingerprints associated with the Italian passport were linked to a 31 year old Australian, identified as Elices, according to Thai officials. Collaborating with the Australian embassy, Thailand’s investigators traced the Italian passport and uncovered Elices’ alleged use of a private plane to enter the kingdom on a 30-day visa exemption for tourists. He attempted to extend his stay but suspicions arose about his true intentions.

Contrary to appearances, Elices was not a wealthy tourist but a key figure in the Hells Angels, as Australian authorities revealed to their Thai counterparts. He played a significant role in a drug network that was dismantled in late 2022, said the IB.

“[Elices is] a leader of the Hells Angels gang [allegedly] involved in a drug trafficking network, smuggling drugs and firearms.”

The IB stated an arrest warrant was issued for importing 14 kilogrammes of methamphetamine and participating in an international criminal organisation.

The pursuit of Elices began when a drug house in Kogarah caught fire in October 2022. The ensuing investigation revealed a burnt 51 year old man outside the house and the unearthing of an alleged drug supply network across the city.

Hells Angels chief's wings clipped in Bangkok bust: Fleeing Australia on fake wings | News by Thaiger
Picture courtesy of Thailand Immigration Bureau.

Cocaine, cash amounting to US$15,000, and drug manufacturing equipment were allegedly discovered in the properties. Elices, suspected of involvement, fled to Thailand before Australian authorities could apprehend him.

Australian and Thai authorities located Elices in a luxury condo in Thonglo, Bangkok last month and promptly arrested him. The Australian Federal Police collaborated with Thai authorities, providing intelligence on Elices’ alleged entry to the kingdom and his suspected location. Photographs from the raid depict Elices shirtless and handcuffed at a dining table, surrounded by Thai officials displaying passports and documents.

Elices reportedly admitted to using the Italian passport to flee Australia and attempting to extend his stay in Thailand after learning about the coordination between Australian police and Thai Immigration Police. He now faces charges of using a passport inappropriately, with Australia planning to seek his deportation once his Thai court matters conclude.

Notably, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam have become sought-after destinations for Australia’s most wanted criminals in recent years. Criminal syndicates, including Hells Angels, have expanded their influence in Southeast Asia, prompting heightened collaboration between Australian and regional authorities.

In a broader context, Thailand’s authorities announced two major drug busts at the end of 2023, unrelated to Elices. One involved a raid on a tugboat outside a Phuket steel mill, uncovering two tonnes of highly pure methamphetamine intended for distribution to various destinations, including Australia. The other, named “Operation Mouse Hunt,” focused on a Nigerian drug trafficking syndicate dealing in heroin, cocaine, ice, and gold within Thailand, with connections to drug distribution in Australia, New Zealand, and Taiwan.

The syndicate employed inventive methods, including using a machine shop to create chocolate moulds for smuggling drugs abroad. This revelation shed light on the sophisticated strategies employed by international drug traffickers, underscoring the challenges faced by law enforcement agencies in combating transnational crime.

Hells Angels chief's wings clipped in Bangkok bust: Fleeing Australia on fake wings | News by Thaiger


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Bob Scott

Bob Scott is an experienced writer and editor with a passion for travel. Born and raised in Newcastle, England, he spent more than 10 years in Asia. He worked as a sports writer in the north of England and London before relocating to Asia. Now he resides in Bangkok, Thailand, where he is the Editor-in-Chief for The Thaiger English News. With a vast amount of experience from living and writing abroad, Bob Scott is an expert on all things related to Asian culture and lifestyle.

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