Last week, the chief whistleblower, in this case, veteran former politician Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit who Minister of Justice Somsak Thepsutin has highly praised, expressed unease at the narrow range of charges being pursued against Mr Chaiyanat Kornchayanant. As part of this week’s move by the National Police Commissioner General Damrongsak Kittiprapat, it is understood that a submission on the case will be made to the Office of the Attorney-General so that it can be pursued as a transnational crime case, giving police and prosecution agencies more power.
The Thai police commissioner General Damrongsak Kittiprapat has taken over responsibility for the case involving the alleged Chinese drug mafia network linked with Mr Du Hao or Chaiyanat Kornchayanant. Police General Surachate Hakparn or ‘Big Joke’ will continue to play a crucial coordinating role with the Metropolitan Police Bureau Commissioner Police Lieutenant General Thiti Saengsawang handling the investigation into drugs being sold at exclusive nightclubs in Bangkok while the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) Chief General Torsak Sukwimol will take charge of suppression activities concerning the extended gang network and the use of ‘grey capital’ which has been linked with extensive property purchases. Alleged malfeasance within the Immigration Bureau is being reviewed by a high-ranking civil service commission. General Damrongsak Kittiprapat, on Tuesday, promised further updates this week on this case and assured the public that every aspect of the matter was being pursued by a united team working well together.
Following an announcement on Monday by the National Police Commissioner General Damrongsak Kittiprapat that he was taking over supervision of the DU Hao case and associated investigations into the operation of a suspected Chinese illicit drug network which has also been linked, in the last week, to allegations of malfeasance within the Immigration Bureau and which has seen over ฿4 billion seized by both a police task force and the Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB), the police chief, General Damrongsak, on Tuesday, gave an update on the progress being made.
The news followed last week’s development where a civic whistleblower Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit who has been praised by the Minister of Justice for his role in the affair, expressed unease about the lack of more wide-ranging charges including for money laundering being brought against the key accused Mr Chaiyanat Kornchayanant and others.
High ranking civil service panel established to probe alleged malfeasance within the Immigration Bureau
It also comes just days after the police chief himself, last Thursday, established a high-ranking civil service level committee to investigate three police generals within the Immigration Bureau linked with allegations that extended non-immigrant student visas were issued to Chinese tourists associated with the criminal gang.
He assured reporters that there was goodwill and understanding between all senior police officers involved in the probe which began on October 26th last with a raid on an illegal nightclub venue in the Yannawa area of Bangkok known as the Jing Ling Pub.
Investigations into two high-end Bangkok drug pubs to now be pursued by the Metropolitan Police Bureau
He, first of all, addressed the investigation related to that matter which is linked to the drug distribution charges levelled at Mr Chaiyanat Kornchayanant who is at present incarcerated after the Bangkok South Municipal Court refused him bail.
The police commissioner said that this aspect of the investigation would now be handled by the Metropolitan Police Bureau Chief Police Lieutenant General Thiti Saengsawang who will report further progress in the next few days.
The police chief explained why initial charges in connection with the raid in which a large quantity of drugs and cash was discovered, were, first of all, levelled at a security manager at the club who represented himself as the manager to a large police force during the raid which saw 237 people arrested, mainly Chinese, and vast arrays of packaged and illicit drug products seized as well as millions of baht in cash and luxury cars.
Subsequently, police discovered the real owner of the facility as part of the investigation process, the police chief explained to reporters.
He assured them that the police were out to get to the bottom of this matter and that a large number of arrests have already been made.
He confirmed the Metropolitan Police Bureau chief Police Lieutenant General Thiti would now be the chief investigative officer on this aspect of the investigation.
He will report to police headquarters and himself as police chief.
‘Grey money’ to be pursued by General Torsak Sukwimol of the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) who led raids in November
The commissioner then turned to the aspect of the case involving the disbursement and concealment of what the press has termed ‘grey money’ or funding from illicit activities such as drug distribution.
General Damrongsak said this aspect of the case will be handled by the Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) chief General Torsak Sukwimol who is also responsible for crime suppression activities.
General Torsak has been involved in the case in this role since early November when the scale of the matter first became apparent leading to a series of raids within the Bangkok area and adjoining provinces.
Finally, General Damrongsak confirmed that Police General Surachate Hakparn will continue to play a crucial role in the case after successfully leading the high-profile police task force up to this point which has seen hundreds of arrests and billions in assets seized.
The police chief described Police General Surachate’s role as bringing the full picture together like a jigsaw or acting as a coordinator although he emphasised that ultimate responsibility for the case will rest with the police commissioner’s office.
Plan to designate it a transnational case requiring a submission to the Office of the Attorney-General
He said that there will be further progress to be reported in the case and indicated that police are looking at designating this criminal network as a transnational criminal organisation which will necessitate a submission to the Office of the Attorney-General.
This would increase the power of the police and prosecution agencies to deal effectively with the case.
At this point, he wanted to assure the public that this case is being pursued diligently.
However, he insisted that investigating officers involved in the case must use discretion and work through the proper channels.
The police chief said there has never been a case like this before where so many of those accused are not Thai nationals.
Investigation into the death of a Chinese woman
He said he was satisfied that all police teams were working together and in harmony.
He explained this also extended towards the relationship between the Royal Thai Police and veteran politician and public figure Mr Chuwit Kamolvisit who has been assisting police and other agencies on the matter.
New charges related to the Narcotics Act are expected to be brought in the coming days linked with another venue in addition to the activities of the Jin Ling pub handled by Yannawa Police Station.
Officers are understood to be investigating the Top One pub, which has also been linked to the Chinese illicit drug network.
Police at Sutthisan Police Station in Bangkok are reported to be investigating the death of a Chinese female tourist at the latter venue after consuming drugs on the premises.
About the Author
James Morris is a pename for an international writer based in Bangkok who works on various international news media. He is a sub editor with the Thai Examiner news website since it began in 2015. Son Nguyen is an international writer and news commentator specialising in Thai news and current affairs. He commenced working with the Thai Examiner News Desk in May 2018.