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Police call in Interpol over Diamond Heist

Phuket Robbery Suspect Returns to Crime Scene

 

CHIANGRAI TIMES – Royal Thai Police have asked Interpol to substantiate whether three foreigners arrested for the theft of 30 million baht in gems and jewellery on Monday are wanted international felons.

The move to ask Interpol follows police seizing as evidence a notebook containing a handwritten list of dates, events and venues of upcoming gem and jewellery trade shows in loads of countries, including Australia, Singapore, Malaysia, India, Dubai, Bahrain and Japan.

The book also listed accommodation establishments located near where the international trade shows are to be held, Phuket Provincial Police Commander Chonasit Wattanavrangkul told the Phuket Gazette.

The book contained handwritten notes detailing the TFWA Asia Pacific event in Singapore, marked to be held May 13-17, the Asia Jewels Fair in Bangalore, to be hung on June 8-10, followed by an event on the Brisbane Exhibition & Convention Center in Australia, slated for June 9-11.

Jewelry merchant Thongsak Chintakanroek, who was robbed of 30 million baht in precious jewelry

The notebook also listed “Hitex, Hyderabad, India… June 22-24”.

The Hyderabad Jewellery Fair, scheduled to be held on the Hitex Convention Center in Hyderabad on those dates, is touted because the largest gem and jewellery fair in South India.

According to HJF organizers, last year’s event attracted greater than 140 commercial buyers and sellers of diamonds, sapphires, rubies and other precious stones, suited for jewelry or loose.

“We found the book with the list of upcoming gem and jewellery trade shows within the possession of the Mexican woman Mejia Asseneth,” Maj Gen Chonasit said.

Police arrested 57-year-old Mejia Zuluaga Maria Asseneth in addition to fellow Mexican national Ruben Dario Zapata Gonzalez, 40, Roslina Binti Abu Bakar, 42, from Malaysia, in addition to Turkish national Riza Balkan, 49, in Trang province after the automobile they were travelling in didn’t stop at a police checkpoint.

Trang Highway Police gave chase and compelled the automobile to forestall. Contained in the car, officers found the various stolen jewelry.

However, about 173 items with a complete value of about 5mn baht remains to be missing.

Ms Asseneth managed to escape the scene after her initial arrest.

Police believe her to be central to the robbery and he or she remains at large. She can be heading south to Thailand’s border with Malaysia, said Maj Gen Chonasit.

A warrant for her arrest have been issued, he confirmed.

Police Commander Chonasit said he believed the group were an “international crew” who were assembled expressly for committing gem heists, first in Thailand after which elsewhere worldwide.

“I believe they’re a part of a world gang. These people met on the net first after which met for the 1st time in person here in Thailand,” Maj Gen Chonasit said.

Police were continuing their look for Ms Asseneth and for the missing 5mn baht in gems and jewellery.

All three suspects has been denied police bail, Maj Gen Chonasit confirmed.

Mr Balkan is being detained by police in Trang province, where he was initially arrested, on a medicine possession charge. Col Chonasit has confirmed Mr Balkan must face the medicine charge there first before being transferred to Phuket to stand charges concerning the gem theft.

 

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