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Australian arrested in southern Thailand on suspicion of international criminal activity




Officers from the Royal Thai Armed Forces have arrested an Australian national in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat on suspicion of international criminal activity. 47 year old Samuel James Norton Cook was arrested when his Toyota car was stopped in the Nai Muang sub-district on Monday night.

Security force officers cooperating with immigration officials and the local police carried out a search of the vehicle and found Cook’s passport, with a visa that had expired over a year previously. The Australian was also found in possession of a fake driving licence.

Officials say they’ve been monitoring Cook for some time, suspecting him of being involved in criminal activities involving illegal drugs and entertainment businesses on the southern island of Phuket. It’s alleged he was also involved in the procurement of Thai women for foreigners connected to an international criminal gang in Phuket.

An arresting officer says Cook hired a vehicle from a Phuket car hire shop around 3 months ago, with the shop allegedly providing him with a fake driving licence. It’s understood the Australian then moved to Nakhon Si Thammarat, where he has stayed at 4 different hotels in the course of the last 3 months. Cook is reported to have spent most days in his room, while going out in his car at night.

The Australian is being held initially on a charge of overstaying his visa, while the wider investigation against him continues. Meanwhile, communicating through an interpreter, Cook says he was visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat on business.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times


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