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Foreign gangs in government crosshairs

NATIONWIDE: Almost 100,000 foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas have been targeted by authorities who are ramping up efforts to weed out transnational criminal gangs from Bangkok and other major tourist provinces.

crimecorruptionimmigrationpolicedrugs
By Bangkok Post

Monday 13 November 2017, 08:49AM


Even elite units such as the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams, seen here during a training exercise, are prepared to take part to combat transnational criminal gangs. Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Even elite units such as the Special Weapons And Tactics (SWAT) teams, seen here during a training exercise, are prepared to take part to combat transnational criminal gangs. Photo: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill

Police believe some foreign nationals who have overstayed their visas may be involved in various criminal activities.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon has instructed military, police and administrative officers to work with state agencies to intensify efforts to apprehend those linked to transnational criminal networks across the country, particularly criminals who entered the country on tourist visas, according to Defence Ministry spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich.

The Royal Thai Police has been told to beef up measures to track down, arrest and prosecute those who either entered the country unlawfully or have overstayed their visas, in violation of the Immigration Act, Lt Gen Kongcheep said.

“Almost 100,000 foreigners were found to have overstayed their visas,” he said, adding Gen Prawit had also warned officials against taking advantage of these people.

According to Lt Gen Kongcheep, security officers have toughened campaigns to investigate and arrest transnational criminals after various tip-offs from the public.

Raids have been carried out in the Nana, Phra Khanong, On Nut and Ramkhamhaeng areas of Bangkok as well as border locations and major provinces and cities, such as Chiang Mai, Pattaya of Chonburi, Songkhla, Phuket and Koh Samui in Surat Thani, the spokesman said.

The operations, he noted, discovered various criminal networks were operating in the country, with many involved in drugs, weapons and human trafficking, prostitution, passport and credit card falsification, online gambling, fake diamond sales and call-centre fraud.

“More than 300 suspects have been arrested so far with a large amount of evidence seized,” he said.

“These illicit networks have caused significant damage to the country’s economy and reputation,” he added.

Lt Gen Kongcheep said security officers would move ahead with stringent measures to suppress mafia activity to ensure public safety.

Maj Gen Surachate Hakparn, acting deputy commissioner of the Tourism Police Bureau (TPB), said operations against transnational crimes would continue this week and would target those who had overstayed their visas.

The move, he said, corresponds with policies given by the government and national police chief Chakthip Chaijinda, who want to ensure public safety and boost tourist confidence.

A large number of foreigners were found to have overstayed their visas, particularly Africans, he said, noting that overstayers often disguised themselves as language teachers, priests or footballers.

Some do not have proper jobs but have between B500,000 and one million baht wired into their bank accounts regularly, he said.

New Paths Retreat

They are likely to be involved in so-called romance scams, call-centre frauds, drug trafficking and various kinds of swindles, Maj Gen Surachate noted.

According to Maj Gen Surachate, police and military officers will begin a crackdown today (Nov 13) in Khon Kaen, followed by raids on Thursday (Nov 16) in places where foreign criminals are believed to be active.

One gang at the centre of this sting involves Africans who are part of a call-centre scam that has been tricking people into wiring money to Thailand, where it was later sent out in Bitcoin to other gang members overseas.

Another involves those trading firearms via post services, Maj Gen Surachate said, adding both Thai and foreign nationals were involved in the illicit trade.

More than one billion baht is believed to be linked to these unlawful activities.

“The TPB, the Immigration Bureau and military officers will join hands to search various locations under suspicion to build confidence among tourists,” said Maj Gen Surachate.

According to him, some call-centre scammers were found to have used Thailand as their base and 87 arrest warrants have been issued for the suspects, including Thai, Chinese, European and African people.

Stringent efforts will be carried out this week to clamp down on these call centre gangs, he noted.

Maj Gen Surachate said coordinated operations will push out foreign criminals from the country.

The TPB and the Immigration Bureau, he said, will also seek cooperation from apartment and accommodation owners to inform officials about foreigners staying at their places, adding the notification must be made within 24 hours in line with the law.

Accommodation owners would face maximum punishment if they are found to have given shelter to foreign criminals, he said.

Acting Metropolitan Police Bureau (MBP) commissioner Chantape Sesavej said he had instructed officers to locate the places where suspected foreign criminals are hiding and bring them for questioning and document inspection.

Lt Gen Suthipong Wongpin, acting commissioner of the Immigration Bureau, said the recent raids in Phuket had uncovered 95 foreign nationals who had overstayed their visas and a further probe is under way.

Read original story here.

 

 

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ematt | 14 November 2017 - 13:03:39

Actually, the only farang who pay for sick buffalos and grandma's hospital bills are the n'er- do-wells from the bottom of the food chain who settle here, marry a bar girl, and then start complaining about the place.  To be honest, Thailand would be best served if Immigration would target them as well.

Timothy | 14 November 2017 - 08:42:55

Hi Ed, I totally messed that message up. You get my point...Anyway it was supposed to say if the gals were charged with fraud. Forget it. Thanks.

Timothy | 14 November 2017 - 08:41:06

"Romance scams". That's funny. What, the Thai gals don't want anyone getting in on their action? Could you imagine what would happen if every farang who paid for the sick buffalo, or grandma's hospital bills, was suddenly charged with fraud?   

JSombra | 13 November 2017 - 18:03:56

\'Why not put flying Immigration Officers squads out there, and visit unannounced guesthouse/hotels to check out or there are illegals\'

I highly doubt people overstaying by months/years are still staying in guesthouses/hotels.

Kurt | 13 November 2017 - 14:13:27

Mhhh, so with almost 100,000 ( more or less) foreign nationals staying illegal is seems the visa system, also including 90 day report system, doesn't work for what it is mend for.
And some foreigners involved in illegal activities? Ooooh.

Why not put flying Immigration Officers squads out there, and visit unannounced guesthouse/hotels to check out or there are illegals?

Perhaps a fine t...

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