Armed with a search warrant, officers raided an unregistered room in Soi Phra Baramee, off Phra Metta Rd, Patong, at 7pm Tuesday night (Oct 11), said a statement by Phuket Provincial Police.
At the room officers placed three people under arrest. The statement named the two men as “Mr Sunthorn”, 48, from Pattani, and “Mr Areefun”, 25, from Narathiwat. Their family names were withheld.
Also arrested at the room was Ms Toiyaya (family name also withheld), 44, from Narathiwat.
Officers found and seized 89 tablets of methamphetamine (ya bah) and two bags containing 0.29 grammes of crystal meth (ya ice), said the statement.
The three were taken to Patong Police Station and charged with joint possession of a Category I narcotic with intent to sell, the statement added.
Patong Police Chief Col Sujin Nilabadee said that Sunthorn and Areefun were both touts working on Bangla Rd, and both were suspects under investigation for “jointly injuring others, causing physical or mental harm (attacking tourists)”, the statement confirmed.
The statement added that officers conducting the raid also found tabs of green-yellow capsules of the painkiller Anadol, which contains Tramadol.
The two used the powder from the capsules to deceive tourists and sell it to them as cocaine.
Five such packs were found, Col Sujin said.
However, the statement neglected to confirm what charges Sunthorn and Areefun will face for the attack on the American tourist on Bangla Rd in the early hours of Sept 28.
The American man injured in the attack was Rakkan Gassim Algassim, 35, from Pennsylvania. He was accompanied by Russian national Alena Mukhieva, 24, at the time of the attack.
Mr Algassim was assaulted about halfway along Bangla Rd in front of a bar that was closed at the time. Police were first alerted to the incident at 3:30am.
Mr Algassim suffered multiple contusions to his face and body, and a deep laceration to the middle finger on his left hand that required hospital treatment.
The statement by the Phuket Provincial Police defended police action in the case, saying the police were not ignoring drugs being sold openly to tourists on Bangla Rd, with full knowledge by the police.
The statement made specific mention of a post on the ‘Khao Jung, Phuket Province’ (“Real News, Phuket”) Facebook group accusing police that: “...drugs are found all along Bangla. Especially cocaine is sold like crazy. The officers have known for a long time but have not not done anything. If they are still together like this, Bangla Road only listens and breaks. There is a video clip. Notice that this motorcyclist is selling cocaine in Bangla Road…”
The allegation, complete with a video clip, was posted online on Sept 17.
However, no action was reported by police as taken until after American tourist Mr Algassim was attacked 10 days later.
Of note, the attack on Mr Algassim was reported to embassy officials in Bangkok.
Regardless, the statement by Phuket Provincial Police was branded as a “Clarification of the case: Arresting a gang selling drugs and selling cocaine (fake) to tourists in Soi Bangla, Patong Police Station area” ‒ not as the arrest of the suspects wanted for the attack on Mr Algassim.
The statement repeated that the Sept 17 post online accusing police of allowing drugs to be sold openly on Bangla Rd was brought to the attention of Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Sermphan Sirikong, who in turn ordered Patong Police Chief Col Sujin Nilabadee to take action and investigate the claims.