BANGKOK – Royal Thai police announced Tuesday that two men of the three accused of hiding a dismembered body in a Bangkok house freezer and running a fake passport ring are Americans.
The pair were arrested last week along with a third suspect ( Suspected Briton) who allegedly opened fire on police during a raid on the shophouse they used as a crime den in the Thai capital.
They were caught in possession of multiple passports, a cache of drugs and three guns. A search of a padlocked freezer found the body of a foreigner chopped into six pieces.
“We can confirm two of them are Americans,” said Bangkok’s police chief Sanit Mahathavorn, after several days of liasing with US authorities to identify the men.
The U.S. embassy confirmed two suspects who held American passports, 33-year-old Aaron Gabel and 66-year-old James Eger, were both U.S. citizens, according to Bangkok’s police chief.
The case has gripped the Thai public with its gruesome nature and suggestions of foreign-run crime networks operating in the heart of the capital.
Yet police are still trying to gather firm details including the nationality of the third suspect, named by officers as “Peter”, who reportedly shot and injured a policeman during the raid.
“Peter has ten passports. We cannot yet identify his nationality,” said Sanit, adding that police are searching for his Thai wife for more clues.
Forensic officers have yet to identify the man inside the freezer and say it is still unclear how he died and whether he was dismembered before or after death.
According to SkyNews authorities believe the body to be that of an ‘elderly’ white European man and that the body had been stored in a freezer for more than three years.
According to Khaosod, forensic examination, the body was that of a middle-aged Caucasian man. Udomsak Hoonwichit of King Chulalongkorn Memorial Hospital told INN news on Monday that an electric saw was likely used to cut the body into pieces.
The three men have been charged with multiple offences, including concealing a body, forging official documents and attempting to kill an officer on duty.
Police said they denied the charges and have told officers the freezer belonged to someone else.
Although Friday’s raid only found 10 passports, police insist it was a major passport forgery operation, pointing to a range of stamps and equipment found during the raid, as well as prior intelligence that led to the search warrant being sought.
Foreign criminals and fugitives have long sought out Thailand as a hub for running syndicates involved in everything from gem thefts to people-smuggling and contract killing.
A thriving fake documents trade has helped shield countless criminals from authorities, with local police notorious for accepting bribes to look the other way.
Source: Sky News, AFP, Khaosod, Bangkok Post