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Construction site extortion gang busted

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Construction site extortion gang busted | Thaiger

PATONG: In the latest case of extortion involving Burmese workers, Kathu Police on Saturday afternoon arrested five men posing as government officers in a bid to extort money from a construction company.

Kathu Police Superintendent Col Grissak Songmoonnark told the Gazette that Kathu Police were informed of the extortion bid by construction foreman Somyot Chairat, who was overseeing a project off 50 Pi Rd in Patong.

A group of five men approached him claiming to be part of a special branch of the Narcotic Control Board (ONCB) tasked with “suppressing” Burmese laborers in Thailand, K. Somyot said.

In exchange for an initial 150,000 baht cash payoff, the fake ONCB officers offered to leave the camp alone for a period of one year – regardless of whether the workers were registered or not, he said.

They said they were sent on assignment to Phuket after the 54 illegal Burmese laborers died en route to Phuket on April 9, he added.

K. Somyot took the telephone number of Maj Teeradet Janjamsai and said he would call them back and pay at the work site later that afternoon.

Knowing that all his workers were legal, he instead called Kathu Police, who set up a sting operation using 150,00 baht in marked banknotes.

When the gang returned in their extended cab pickup to collect payment, many police officers already hiding in wait moved in after the transaction was completed and arrested the men.

The men were identified at a press conference later that day as Nakhon Sri Thammarat natives Paisarn Bumrungsak, 39; Pornthep Julladet, 34; and Wittaya Inthanop, 35, along with Surat Thani native Teerapong Sripoot, 34, and alleged ringleader Maj Teeradet Janjamsai, 51, from Bangkok.

At the press conference, all five men confessed to trying to extort money.

Subsequent investigation revealed that the group had successfully extorted other construction companies in Phuket City and Patong, but for lesser amounts – typically about 30,000 baht, he said.

“In this case they demanded much more and K. Somyot reported them,” Col Grissak said.

Among the articles seized as evidence were an unregistered 11mm handgun, 12 rounds or ammunition for .357 and 9mm guns, five two-way radios, seven mobile phones, the gang’s pickup truck, digital cameras, police identification card holders, pocket knives and a large bamboo “bong” for smoking krathom leaves.

Maj Teeradet denied the bong belonged to any of the men, saying that it must have already been at the workers’ camp when they arrived.

Lt Naruewat Puttawiro of the Kathu Police today told Gazette that all of the men had been charged with colluding to commit extortion.

They are being held in Phuket Provincial Prison, except for Maj Teeradet Janjamsai, who was allowed to post bail on May 4 by the Phuket Provincial Court.

Col Grissak encouraged anyone who is subject to similar extortion attempts to call Kathu Police at 076-342719-20.

“There are other people doing the same thing,” he said.

 

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