Tattooed Thai gangster-turned-influencer Keng Laiprang sentenced to prison

Photo via KhaoSod


Thai gangster-turned-star Panya Yimumphai – better known as Keng Laiprang – was sentenced to 10 months and 40 days in prison yesterday for persuading his followers to gamble online in a TikTok clip.

At 10am, police escorted 41 year old Keng Laiprang to Don Mueang District Court to face trial for the charge of “persuading others, directly or indirectly, to bet online.” He confessed to the allegation.

The court sentenced Keng Laiprang to 10 months and 40 days, citing that he committed the gambling crime within five years of being released from prison for a drug crime and also that the punishment also covers another online gambling crime Keng committed in 2022.

But the gangster managed to escape sleeping in a prison cell last night as the court released him on bail for securities of 20,000 baht. He is expected to appeal the sentence.

Cyber Police sought search warrants for three locations in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, and Chiang Rai to seize Keng’s assets. Police seized a CPU, an iMac computer, a MacBook computer, two Promac computers, 14 mobile phones, and four bank deposit passbooks.

Upon his arrest last week, Keng confessed to persuading others to gamble online. He said the illegal gambling site paid him around 200,000 baht per month to advertise for them on social media.

In 2017, Keng was sent to prison again for smuggling Yaba (“crazy drug”) into prison back in 2008 while he was serving an eight-year prison sentence for robbery and attempted murder, which is when he acquired his unique face full of tattoos.

Earlier that year, Keng stood on the red carpet at Cannes Film Festival after starring in the critically-acclaimed film ‘A Prayer Before Dawn.’

ORIGINAL STORY: Tattooed Thai gangster-turned-movie star arrested on gambling charges

Thai gangster-turned-actor Panya Yimumphai – famous for his role in ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ – was arrested on gambling charges at a house in Pathum Thani, just north of Bangkok, on Monday.

Thailand’s Cyber Police raided the property after Panya, better known for his gang name Keng Laiprang (“Keng Camouflage”), posted a TikTok clip inviting his followers to gamble on an illegal website.

The police played the clip to the Criminal Court which issued search warrants for three locations in Bangkok, Pathum Thani, and Chiang Mai to seize evidence related to Keng’s alleged crimes. The search operation started on Sunday.

Keng Laiprang was arrested under suspicion of, “directly or indirectly persuading others to gamble” in violation of Section 12 of the Gambling Act (1935).

Initially, Keng confessed to the accusation. He said that the gambling website hired him to promote and post links to their website on social media, paying him 200,000 baht per month. He said he has been doing the job ever since his recent release from prison.

The gangster admitted that he thinks inciting youngsters to gamble is wrong. He said the reason he took on the illegal job was because he didn’t have enough income despite having several business ventures.

“I want to stop. But if I don’t have enough income, I’ll be tempted to do it again,” he admitted in front of the Cyber Police.

Keng Laiprang has one of the most unforgettable faces in Thailand thanks to tattoos he acquired while serving an eight-year prison sentence for attempted murder and robbery. After he was released in 2011, he became an online star, acquiring millions of followers and endorsing brands along the way.

Then, Keng became known internationally after starring as a gangster in the Muay Thai film ‘A Prayer Before Dawn’ (2017) in which Billy Moore, an English boxer, is imprisoned at Thailand’s most notorious prison. The critically acclaimed film is based on a true story.

From a life of crime to the red carpet, Keng Laiprang was pictured holding his thumbs up at the Cannes Film Festival in southern France in May 2017.

But Keng’s past came back to haunt him once more when he was sentenced to jail again for smuggling Yaba (“crazy drug”) into prison back in 2008. He found himself behind bars again in August 2017.

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Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.

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