KOH SAMUI – Pol Maj Gen Thitirat Nonghanpitak, acting Commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), told reporters that 700 police and soldiers raided known haunts of gunmen and criminals on Koh Samui Island Friday Morning, code named operation “Dawn on Samui.”
Pol Maj Gen Thitirat Nonghanpitakin told the Bangkok Post the attempt was to clampdown on organized crime in the wake of the public murder of a major building contractor early this month.
The police and soldiers searched 23 locations, arriving at some by helicopter, seized firearms and ammunition and arrested five suspects.
Pol Maj Gen Thitirat, said operation “Dawn on Samui” was aimed at suppressing influential people and members of organized crime.
He said the murder of Phanas Khao-uthai, 49, a major building contractor on Koh Samui, who was shot dead in front of many foreign tourists on Fisherman’s Village walking street in the evening of March 6.
“Koh Samui had become plagued by crime and it was affecting the tourism industry, criminals were fighting over speedboat and taxi services and businesses on walking street. The conflicts between influential groups included murder and were scaring tourists and local residents.”
Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) officers, local police, commandos and soldiers raided 23 locations believed to house gangsters, gunmen and influential people, starting about 6am.
One of the targets was the house of Wiwat Chuenban, also known as Luk Poweng, the 41-year-old owner of Ruangsri Travel Co, in Bo Phut sub-district.
Commandos forced their way into his house by land and from the air while the residents were sleeping.
In total, authorities seized 13 guns, 835 bullets, three kilogram of krathom leaves and gear used for smoking marijuana during the raids.
Police also arrested three suspects, including Mr Wiwat, for firearms possession and two other suspects for possession of of an illegal substance.
Pol Maj Gen Thitirat said if influential groups did not stop their warfare on Koh Samui, more such raids would occur because authorities want to improve the image of the tourist island.