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Tourists face drug extortion

THAILAND: Police are warning foreign tourists hunting for drug thrills in Thailand that they face extortion by the gangs from whom they buy the narcotics.

Friday 10 June 2011, 01:46AM

Two foreign tourists, who admitted buying and using narcotics, risked going to the police to report an alleged blackmail scam by their dealers, according to the Bangkok Post.

Police arrested three members of a gang in Chiang Mai last week after two tourists lodged complaints that they had been blackmailed by drug dealers.

The three suspects were gang leader Shmilov Herzel, 29, an Israeli with a Canadian passport, his 20-year-old Thai wife Thasani Klanklin, and Phichet Pheungsai, 39, an associate.

Belgian Jan Pieter Rutter, 22, and American John Eric Crabtree told the police that after buying the drugs at the Falafel King restaurant in Chiang Mai run by the gang, Thasani called Phichet, who impersonated a police officer to arrest the two.

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The tourists claimed Phichet then took them to an ATM and told them to withdraw B45,000 and give it to him in exchange for their freedom.

He then took away the tourists’ IDs as a guarantee that they each would later pay him a further B100,000, they said.

Police said they were keeping a close eye on similar transnational drug gangs from Denmark, Belgium and the US which were also believed to be blackmailing their customers.

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