PHUKET TOWN: Police have announced the arrest of a member of a three-man gang believed responsible for a string of murders and vehicle thefts across the southern provinces of Thailand between July and December last year. In custody and charged with murder and theft is Prapai Baupeng, 26, from Krabi. Phuket police allege that he and two others would typically lure a car or truck driver to an isolated place, handcuff him and cover his head with a plastic bag, and then shoot or stab him to death. They would then leave the corpse, taking the victim’s vehicle for sale. According to police, Prapai has confessed to being involved in three incidents: · On July 5, the gang shot dead Mr Thavorn Chern-a-rom in Krabi province. They also stole Mr Thavorn’s pick-up and some cash. · On December 5 Mr Chanee Thongneed, 32, and Mr Prasit Sae Uo, 27, were murdered in Chumporn Province. The gang dumped the bodies in Surat Thani and stole the men’s 10-wheel truck. · On December 22 in Phuket Town, Mr Wittaya Charoensap was grabbed by the gang but escaped from them. They took his car, however, and sold it in Had Yai. Mr Wittaya, who recognised the men, reported the incident to the police. Pol Lt Col Chalit Thintanee, superintendent of the Phuket Town Police team which hunted down Prapai, said he believes the gang was responsible for a number of other murders and thefts. Investigations are continuing and two men, Prapai’s younger brother Sampan Baupeng and Rungrat Srisakorn, are being sought for questioning. The arrest is seen as a major coup for the Phuket Police, meriting a visit from Assistant Commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8, Pol Maj Gen Somphotch Suntornworn, who is in charge of 102 police stations in Phuket and six other southern provinces.
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