After allegations surfaced that Deputy National Police Chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn was involved in the operation of gambling websites, Bangkok police from the Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau (CCIB) raided his home on Monday morning.
The investigation formed a subset of a bigger operation known as “Big Cleaning Day.”
Special operations commandos from the Metropolitan Police and the Anti-Corruption Division reportedly assisted the cyber crime police who had obtained a court search warrant.
Soi Vibhavadi 60, located behind the Police Club, also has five residences scheduled for warranted searches. Apparently Pol Gen Surachate acquired the homes for his staff.
Pol Gen Surachate was home when police showed there at 8 a.m., and he greeted them in just his boxers and a white T-shirt. As the deputy commander of the Royal Thai Police, he allegedly refused to let the authorities into his home.
Pol Lt Gen Voravat Watnakhonbancha, the CCIB commissioner, was late, so the search team had to wait to discuss the search warrant with Pol Gen Surachate. Pol Gen Surachate authorised the search once Pol Gen Voravat arrived.
House #60 in Soi Vibhavadi, where Pol Gen Surachate lives, was reportedly one of 30 searched on Monday across Bangkok and five provinces: Phetchaburi, Samut Prakan, Khon Kaen, Udon Thani, and Saraburi.
Police Found Nothing Criminal
Approximately one billion baht is said to have circulated through online gambling sites in Laos, and the other residences purportedly belong to subordinate police officials loyal to Pol Gen Surachate.
CCIB investigators into the network’s financial dealings uncovered information strong enough to secure search and arrest orders.
Reportedly arrested in operation “Big Cleaning Day” were a police major general and a police colonel working with a team of investigators led by Pol Gen Surachate. They would have been escorted to the Sathorn road headquarters of the Metropolitan Police Division 5 to be questioned.
When Pol Gen Damrongsak Kittiprapas retires at the end of September, Pol Gen Surachate will be one of four deputy national police chiefs who can apply for the position of national police chief. After learning that five or six of his colleagues had arrest warrants for their suspected involvement in internet gambling, Pol Gen Surachate told reporters that he and his subordinates will establish their innocence.
The search of his home turned up nothing criminal, according to Pol Gen Surachate. He never accepted payment from a gambling website and instead worked to shut them down. He had complete faith in his subordinates’ honesty.
Investigation into Illegal Online Gambling
Pol Gen Surachate stated he wasn’t running for national police chief when asked whether he was nervous about his chances. He intended to return to work as normal after the search.
The Cyber Crime Investigation Bureau’s commissioner, Pol Lt Gen Worawat Watnakhonbancha, explained that the search was conducted as part of a wider investigation into online gambling and that officials thought that several suspects had stayed at Pol Gen Surachate’s home.
He was unaware of the specifics of the cover-up operation. The CCIB teams assisted the Police Cyber Task Force on Monday as they conducted searches across various provinces.
Pol Gen Surachate entered the world in Songkhla in 1970. His grandfather was a lower-ranking officer and a personal friend of the late Deputy Police Chief Samer Damapong.
Following his time at the Armed Forces Academies Preparatory School, he enrolled in the RPCA and became a member of Class 41. He rapidly became one of the most prominent members of Class 41. He started as a deputy inspector in Chiang Mai when he was 24 years old, then worked his way up to inspector in 2000 when he was 30 years old, then deputy superintendent in 2004, and finally superintendent in 2008.
Crackdown on Illegal Foreigners
The Songkhla Police Force promoted him to deputy commander in 2012. During this period, he also directed a forward command responsible for four border districts beset by insurgency. He became a major general in the police force in 2015.
Pol Gen Surachate has risen to prominence in the public eye since 2017, when he led a crackdown on foreigners residing in the country illegally. To go to Australia, a Saudi woman narrowly escaped deportation from Thailand thanks to his efforts.
It’s unknown why he was ousted from his position as head of the Immigration Bureau after being appointed in September of 2018. His tenure as head of the Immigration Bureau made him a regular fixture in the media.
He joined the Royal Thai Police as Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha’s special adviser on strategy in March 2019. The job was on par with that of an assistant police chief. He eventually rose to the rank of deputy chief.
Seven bullets were fired into Pol Gen Surachate’s parked automobile on Surawong Road in the Bang Rak area of Bangkok in 2020, and it appears that he was the intended target. He was in the middle of a meeting.
The attack, he claimed, was in response to the Immigration Bureau’s controversial purchase of an expensive biometric technology, which he denied having been the motive for staging the incident.
A high-ranking cop was let go after a recording leaked in which a supervisor can be heard ordering him not to pursue the inquiry, and the case was never solved.
In 2021, the Administrative Court ruled that Pol Gen Wirachai Songmetta should have his job and benefits as deputy police chief restored.