TAH CHAT CHAI: Police conducting a routine vehicle inspection at the Tah Chat Chai checkpoint on Sunday morning arrested a man for possession of an automatic rifle, ammunition and five ya bah (methamphetamine) tablets.
Pol Lt Col Sakchai Limchareon, Deputy Superintendent of the Tah Chat Chai Police Station, identified the driver as 38-year-old Chatchay Nilata, a native of Trang Province. He was driving alone at the time he was stopped, at about 8 am, just after crossing onto the island over the Tao Thepkrasattri Bridge.
Police said the suspect acted suspiciously after being stopped at the checkpoint, where round-the-clock security checks have been in effect since the terrorist bombings in Haad Yai.
The suspect’s vehicle, a bronze Mitsubishi Titan extended-cab pickup truck with Trang license plates, was impounded as evidence after police found a Heckler & Koch assault rifle and 133 rounds of ammunition on the rear seat.
Police also said they found ten .45-caliber bullets, five ya bah pills and legal documents relating to a land dispute between the suspect and the president of the Trang Provincial Administration Organization.
The suspect faces charges of illegal possession of a war weapon and ammunition as well as possession of a Category 1 narcotic. He was taken into custody and is being held in a cell at Tah Chat Chai Police Station.
When questioned, the suspect claimed he needed the gun to protect a temple abbot from Yala who was visiting Luang Phu Supha temple in Chalong for a religious ceremony.
Col Sakchai refused to speculate on the suspect’s motives for carrying the war weapon, saying that the case was still under investigation.
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