Raids on drinking and gambling dens expose Chinese influence

Raids on illegal drinking and gambling dens in Bangkok and Pattaya have done little to solve the problem. Rather, they have drawn attention to the number of Chinese nationals involved in Thailand’s burgeoning organised crime scene.

But don’t worry, celebrity sleuth “Big Joke” is on it. Deputy national police chief Surachate “Big Joke” Hakparn is ready to prosecute and extradite every Chinese national found to be involved in “grey businesses” in Thailand.

Surachate also promised authorities will revoke the Thai citizenship of alleged crime boss Chaiyanat Kornchayanant, aka “Tuhao” alias “Rich Guy.” Super well-connected Tuhao is under investigation after narcotics were found at an illegal Bangkok venue believed to be owned by him. Big Joke also promised “action” against any state officials involved.

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Sending Chinese gangsters home to their beach houses in Sanya rather than rotting in Bangkwang is hardly the crime initiative of the century.

Chaiyanat came into the spotlight when police raided the Jinling Pub on Charoen Rat Road, following a tipoff from “Tub King” Chuwit Kamolvisit, where 104 patrons — 99 of them Chinese nationals — tested positive for “drugs.”

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A warrant for his arrest after Chuwit again went to the police, this time with a false story about Tuhao having fled to Myanmar. The mild-mannered businessman turned himself in on November 23. He denies all accusations but was refused bail.

Surachate ordered searches at a house on Rama V Road and a hotel in downtown Bangkok. At the house, the police were warmly welcomed by Tuhao’s wife, a Thai police colonel. The gracious hostess is reported to be with the foreign affairs sub-division and a niece of a former commissioner of the Royal Thai Police who was deputy prime minister in a Yingluck cabinet. Tuhao is known to have made a 3 million baht donation to PM Prayut Chan-o-cha’s Palang Pracharath Party.

After the raid on the pub, police searched 38 other premises, where they seized five luxury cars and 19 million baht in cash from four Chinese nationals. Their target is Chen Yang, said to be Tuhao’s business partner.

Police raids on drinking and gambling dens linked to Chaiyanat in Pattaya, and Bangkok’s Sutthisan neighbourhood where a Chinese tourist died of a drug overdose in September, have provided results. Shui Tai Wei, “David,” who runs Baby Face in Sutthisan and Yu Chang Fei of Club One Pattaya were both arrested.

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Baby Face in Sutthisan is run by Tuhao’s alleged associate.

Surachate said such businesses have proliferated in Thailand after Beijing threw out criminal businesses a few years back, most removing to Sihanoukville in Cambodia, and thence into Thailand.

Chinese crooks in Thailand have benefited from the aid of several politicians, including a former cabinet minister, the alleged middleman between criminals and police facilitators.

True to his name, “Big Joke” stopped short of naming names. Police are investigating the financial transactions to find any links to police and politicians.

When asked about Tuhao’s case, Surachate said that after the offender is prosecuted under Thai laws, he will be extradited to China along with any other Chinese nationals involved.

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Jon Whitman

Jon Whitman is a seasoned journalist and author who has been living and working in Asia for more than two decades. Born and raised in Glasgow, Scotland, Jon has been at the forefront of some of the most important stories coming out of China in the past decade. After a long and successful career in East sia, Jon is now semi-retired and living in the Outer Hebrides. He continues to write and is an avid traveller and photographer, documenting his experiences across the world.

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