BANGKOK – Tackling Thailand’s reputation as being a safe haven for transnational criminals, the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) has vowed to step up cooperation with its counterparts in other countries to track criminals fleeing to and from Thailand.
At the same time, the CSD intends to contribute to the creation of a global policing network.
“It’s no surprise that criminals from elsewhere head to Thailand,” said Pol Col Jirabhop Bhuridej, acting chief of the CSD.
“International cooperation is one of the most effective tools for fighting transnational crime as it is impossible for the Thai police to fight this type of crime by themselves.”
The 42-year-old CSD commissioner said he believes that increased cooperation between international police forces like Interpol can only lead to more arrests and more crimes being prevented.
“Information sharing is now essential. Without police forces sharing intelligence, Thailand could become the main hub for transnational criminals fleeing their countries to go into hiding here,” he said.
The CSD already works on cases with countries which request its assistance, and it now it plans to expand these joint efforts into a more formal network of cooperation covering as many countries as possible.
Most recently, the CSD worked together with its French counterpart to apprehend a French hacker who fled to Thailand, he said.
French police attache Catherine Occhini met Pol Col Jirabhop last Wednesday and thanked the CSD for its cooperation in tracking Jonathan Verron, 25, a French national, who along with two other people already detained in France, hacked a British financial institution’s accounting database and demanded a ransom of 20 million baht.
He had stolen the personal information of about 1,400 customers of the financial institution.
This criminal was also involved in drugs and weapons trading via the dark web, Pol Col Jirabhop said. Mr Verron was detained in Koh Samui district of Surat Thani in May.
“This case is further proof of how important cooperation is in crime suppression. Working more closely with our international counterparts can really make a difference,” he said.
Certain successful joint operations between the CSD and its counterparts in other countries aren’t made known to the media, especially where national security may be involved, Pol Col Jirabhop said.
The CSD chief also stressed that his team is ready to help any country that requests its assistance in locating felons who may have fled to these shores.
Aside from the cooperating with countries in tracking transnational criminals fleeing into Thailand, the CSD also pays attention to the importance of training its staff in how to share knowledge among international crime suppression bodies as part of international investigations, he added.
Foreign-language speaking staff are invited for special training so they can be deployed as liaison officers during investigations with the CSD’s international counterparts.
Additionally, some Thai police investigators and a number of CSD officials attend training overseas to gain experience in the procedures adopted by other police forces and criminal investigation units.
“In August, the CSD worked together with Israeli police to catch Beno Reinhorn, a 35-year-old former handball coach who had allegedly molested over 140 children,” Pol Col Jirabhop said.
The CSD also worked with the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to apprehend Sebastian Greenwood who was wanted on a US international arrest warrant and an Interpol red notice for operating a digital currency pyramid scheme.
In November 2016, Pol Col Jirabhop led a CSD investigation into the disappearance of Eliyahu Cohen, 63, a former senior Israeli official who was later found to have been murdered. His body was found encased in cement.
The CSD was alerted to the disappearance of Cohen on Nov 9, 2016 after he disappeared from his condominium in the Charan Sanitwong area.
The CSD team later detected that Cohen’s credit card was used at a shopping mall in Nonthaburi’s Bang Bua Thong district after he had disappeared.
Before his disappearance, he had an appointment with an Israeli father and son at an Israeli restaurant in the Khao San area.
Police suspected the two of being behind his disappearance.
Simon Biton, 50, was later detained at a house in Bang Bua Thong.
A relationship between Cohen and an unidentified Thai woman was believed to be the motive behind his murder.
“The CSD is also forming a team of young investigators that will thwart transnational gangs operating in Thailand,” said Pol Col Jirabhop, who himself has attended a course abroad with the US FBI.
By Wassayos Ngamkham
The Bangkok Post