6 June 2024

Police have arrested 17 suspects, including the chief officer of Si Racha district and the alleged mastermind of a major arms trafficking gang, which has allegedly sold hundreds of various types of firearms, ammunition and hand grenades to customers in Thailand and neighbouring countries, according to National Police Chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk.

Five major suspects, including the alleged ring leader, 32-year-old Danupol Yompong, Si Racha’s district chief officer, a former chief district officer of Sai Yok district in Kanchanaburi province and an official of Sai Yok district, were arrested in coordinated raids on houses in Chon Buri and Kanchanaburi provinces, said the police chief.

Seventeen guns of various calibres, over 10,000 rounds of ammunition, 490 “Por 4” gun licenses, 36 “Por 3” gun purchase permits, 28 bank books, two houses, five boats and six cars have been impounded, the police chief said at a press conference held at the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) office yesterday (Monday).

With his wide connections with local officials, Danupol allegedly used the permits to apply for gun purchases under the welfare programme, in collusion with some gun shops in Bangkok.  After having received the licenses, the guns were sold, mostly to buyers in neighbouring countries, and the local officials who allowed their names to be used in the gun purchases were paid.

Meanwhile, Pol Col Wiwat Jitsopakul, superintendent of the third subdivision of the CSD, told a press conference yesterday that the raids follow two major arms seizures in the past two years in the north-eastern province of Nong Khai.

Two dozen guns, ammunition and hand grenades were seized by border patrol police on June 23rd, 2020 in Nong Khai province. Then, on July 30th last year, 35 .22 calibre rifles were seized by customs officials at a border checkpoint.

Since the two major seizures and the arrests of some suspects, Pol Col Wiwat said CSD police have conducted intensive investigations and managed to track down the alleged ring leader and the trafficking network, including officials responsible for issuing permit documents.

He claimed that the gang made between 30,000-50,000 baht profit from the sale of each gun, depending on the calibre.

Pol Gen Suwat also told the media that officials from the Anti-Money Laundering Office managed to impound 50 million baht in assets belonging to some members of the gang.

He said the police are still investigating whether there are any more officials involved in the arms trafficking racket.