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Rambo's lonely lair: Inside the Loch Palm hideout of the drug kingpin arrested in Phuket

PHUKET: Alleged hitman Joseph Hunter was a recluse who took care to avoid contact with neighbours, instead holing himself up inside his Phuket home.

By Bangkok Post

Thursday 10 October 2013, 11:21AM

Alleged drug kingpin and contract killer Joseph Hunter spent six months holed up inside his Phuket home. avoiding contact with the outside world prior to his arrest last month, estate staff say.

The 48-year-old US national rented a modest one-storey home in Garden Villas, part of the exclusive Baan Suan housing estate inside Kathu district's Loch Palm Golf Club.

Staff at the housing estate paint Mr Hunter as a virtual recluse, a ''good tenant'' who ensured his bills were paid on time but took equal care to avoid contact with others. 

''He seemed to enjoy a private life,'' a pool cleaner at the estate said. ''My colleagues and I never saw him swim or relax by the pool, even though it is located directly opposite his house.

''We had no idea he was a bad person. He never caused problems for anyone.''

Mr Hunter, known to his friends as ''Rambo'', served as a sniper instructor and drill sergeant during his time in the US military from 1983 to 2004 before allegedly turning to a life of organised crime.

He was deported from Bangkok to New York shortly after his arrest to face charges of conspiracy, attempting to import cocaine and planning to kill a law enforcement agent.

US officials say Mr Hunter led a ring of former military snipers who killed people for money, and operated a drug network spanning much of Asia.

He pleaded not guilty to the charges in a brief court appearance last Saturday.Two co-defendants, a German and a fellow American, also pleaded not guilty on Tuesday.

Locating Mr Hunter's house inside the maze of luxury villas and sprawling green lawns that make up Baan Suan proved difficult, but with the aid of two security guards, Bangkok Post Sunday eventually arrived outside the front of number 34.

By all appearances it is a normal home, a medium-sized one-storey residence with a small, lush front yard. The doors and windows were all locked, and the curtains drawn.

Peeking through a crack in the curtains, it appeared the contents of the home had been left undisturbed. Magazines lay strewn across the living room, pillows were haphazardly arranged on the coach, and yellow flowers wilted on a small coffee table.

The pool cleaner said Mr Hunter rarely ventured outside the home and almost never fraternised with friends or neighbours.


''During his six-month stay, he was a good and quiet tenant. He always paid the bills on time,'' he said.

''I never saw him communicate with other neighbours. The only person I saw visiting him often was his Filipina girlfriend. She was in her 20s, and would often stay with him for a week at a time before going away again for five or six weeks.

''Sometimes he went out on his motorbike and return a short time later with bags from 7-Eleven, then lock himself in the house again.''

The pool cleaner said he would often exchange smiles with Mr Hunter, but the two never spoke.

''He drew the curtains all the time, and only asked for his house to be cleaned once a week,'' he said, adding that most residents opt for twice-weekly cleaning.

''He kept a close eye on the maids all the time when they were cleaning his house.''

A woman who babysits for the house next door to Mr Hunter's gave a similar account of his activities.

''I am usually here from the afternoon until the late morning of the next day. I noticed he [Mr Hunter] did not go out much during the day time. If he did, it would only be for 20-30 minutes and then he would return,'' she said.

''But I often saw him venture out in the evening, sometimes alone and sometimes with his girlfriend.''

Loch Palm Golf Club staff said Mr Hunter had never shown his face around the club or used any of the club's services.

Read our other stories on Joseph "Rambo" Hunter here.

Bangkok Post.



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