As the number of kidnapping and ransom cases increases, the Royal Thai Police have vowed to crackdown on Chinese underhanded dealings in Bangkok. The statement comes after a series of high profile kidnappings in the past few months.
The number of Chinese visitors visiting Thailand has surged since China loosened travel restrictions. Among lawful tourists, some Chinese nationals have entered the country to carry out illicit operations such as kidnapping for ransom, which can escalate to murder in some circumstances.
The chief of investigations for Bangkok ‘s Metropolitan Police, Pol Maj Gen Teeradej Thumsutee, spoke to the Bangkok Post on how the Royal Thai Police is battling the crimes.
He claims that the number of illicit activities is proportional to the number of Chinese tourists who have arrived in Thailand after the government relaxed Covid-19 travel regulations.
Since February 6, the Chinese government has permitted its citizens to travel in groups through travel agents. Over 300,000 Chinese nationals went to Thailand in the first quarter of 2023, according to the government’s public relations department. According to Pol Maj Gen Teeradej, they were accompanied by some criminals.
Five Kidnappings in Bangkok
He cited five important examples that occurred in Bangkok or under the Bangkok ‘s Metropolitan Police’s jurisdiction.
On March 10, four immigration officers kidnapped a Chinese man and his interpreter, a Thai lady. Four immigration officers allegedly kidnapped them from a residence in Din Daeng and drove them to a house on Soi Pracha Songkhroh 2, also in Din Daeng.
Immigration officers allegedly extorted US$30,000 from them in the Tether stablecoin, which is tethered to the US dollar.
Three Chinese nationals were detained on March 16 for kidnapping a Chinese graduate student and extorting 3.3 million baht from her.
The victim had dinner with a Chinese suspect at an Ekamai restaurant. Following the lunch, she was led to a car park, when one Chinese man forced the victim into the vehicle with a knife. Another Chinese man was in the driver’s seat.
According to reports, as the vehicle drove away, the man with the knife ordered her to send RMB250,000 (1.2 million baht) and 8,000 bitcoin coins via her mobile phone.
Chinese Student Kidnapped and Killed
Jin Can, a 22-year-old student at Bangkok Thonburi University, was kidnapped and murdered in Nonthaburi on March 28.
He claims the student was stabbed five times in the right shoulder and had a towel tied around her neck before she died. The body was discovered in a sack in a Bang Yai district plantation.
Wang Nanfeng, 34, was taken from a condominium in Pathumwan district’s Lumpini neighbourhood on April 14.
Petchlada Sangsakun, 24, her Thai lover Supaphon Halman, and four others are among the suspects. They sought 3.9 million baht in ransom from the victim.
Huang Ding Xuan, 30, was reported missing on April 16. Officers from Bang Phong Phang police station recovered him and discovered he had been kidnapped from a Sathorn hotel, with the kidnappers demanding a ransom of 1.8 million baht.
Despite the fact that some Chinese suspects fled Thailand before arrest warrants were issued, they were eventually extradited to face judicial proceedings in Thailand.
Criminals Want Untraceable Cryptocurrency
According to Pol Maj Gen Teeradej, the majority of Chinese offenders enter Thailand on tourist visas. They frequently plan their schemes with fellow citizens and approach potential victims through Chinese mobile apps like WeChat.
Criminals contact victims until they discover their daily routine, financial status, and family history.
Most victims are Chinese citizens whose families are considered wealthy by Chinese standards, or those who have a huge amount of cash in their bank accounts as well as a large amount of cryptocurrency worth a lot of money.
For example, the Chinese graduate who had been subjected to extortion had gotten a substantial sum of money from her family. They had just received compensation for land expropriation.
“Thai accomplices work as assistants, facilitating and providing accommodation such as hotels, vehicles, or a location to hide the abductee.” Thai offenders also provide criminal and escape routes out of Thailand,” he adds.
According to Pol Maj Gen Teeradej, government employees were involved in some cases, issuing fraudulent IDs or other documents.
Damrongsak Kittiprapas, the national police chief, has directed the Immigration Bureau to collaborate with Chinese officials in order to access a criminal database as part of the process of awarding visas on arrival to Chinese nationals.
Thai police will also collect thorough details on Chinese tourists, including hotel addresses, destinations in Thailand, and the names of their companions. Local police can access the records in order to monitor high-risk regions with a high number of Chinese tourists.
According to Pol Maj Gen Teeradej, police stations in prominent tourist areas have undertaken frequent patrols to collect data and devise ways to combat illegal activity.
The MPB has also deployed surveillance cameras across Bangkok, particularly in congested locations and high-risk regions.
According to Pol Maj Gen Teeradej, police must support a crackdown on Chinese criminals before they grow into mafia gang activities.
“There will be a significant crackdown on Chinese criminals in areas known to be their haunts, such as Huai Kwang, Thong Lor, and Makkasan,” he added.