Massive manhunt underway for fugitive Chaowalit in Banthad mountain range

Seized firearms, ammunition, survival kits and equipment believed to belong to fugitive Chaowalit Thongduang at the Banthad mountain range in Phatthalung and Satun provinces last week. PIcture courtesy of Bangkok Post.

A massive manhunt involving over 400 police officers and state officials is underway for fugitive Chaowalit Thongduang, also known as Sia Paeng. The search is concentrated on the Banthad mountain range, according to National Police Chief, Police General Torsak Sukvimol, who briefed the press on Monday.

The clothes discovered recently within the mountain range have tested positive for Chaowalit’s DNA, thus confirming his presence in the area. This discovery has marked the sixth day of the rigorous pursuit, during which Pol. Lt. Gen. Thana Chuwong, the acting deputy national police chief, has visited the area to monitor the progress.

The officers engaged in the hunt for Chaowalit hail from various departments including Provincial Police Regions 8 and 9 which cover the southern provinces, the Border Patrol Police Bureau, the Crime Suppression Division, the Scientific Crime Detection Division and the Department of Corrections. Their search is spread across the mountain range sprawling over Phatthalung, Trang, and Satun provinces.

In a strategic move to corner the escapee, the police have closed off potential tracks along streams to prevent Chaowalit from accessing villages and seeking food aid from locals. Yet, the exact location of Chaowalit within the Trang or Phatthalung section of the Banthad mountain range remains uncertain.

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Meanwhile, fear grips the local villagers as they arm themselves for self-defence. In Baan Pa Pon, residents from approximately 100 households have resorted to keeping weapons at hand, even as they sleep, as a safeguard against Chaowalit, who is known to be armed.

The 37 year old fugitive was in prison for attempted murder. He made a daring escape from Maharat Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital on October 22, where he had been taken for dental treatment. Despite being in restraints and leg chains, Chaowalit managed to flee, triggering the ongoing manhunt.

Seven individuals aiding the fugitive have been arrested, and three officials from the Department of Royal Forestry have surrendered after warrants were issued.

Crime NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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