Extortion case involving suspects tied to Pattaya cops dropped amid post-coup police shuffle

Friday, 06 June 2014 From Issue Vol. XXII No. 23 By  Boonlua Chatree

A case of apparent extortion by three men with apparent ties to current Pattaya Police officers appears to have died the victim of a bureaucratic shuffle, leaving a central Thailand man feeling cheated and poorer by 50,000 baht.

Nakhorn Ratchasima native Nattapong Vhiachu, 28, brought his nephew Pongdanai Pholkhayan, 20, to Pattaya Police Station May 22 to file charges against three men masquerading as cops who allegedly had taken 40,000 baht cash and gold equivalent to another 10,000 baht.

They told police the men, armed with guns, had entered Pongdanai’s Soi Kophai apartment, claiming he’d been seen using drugs and demanded 50,000 baht not to arrest him. Pongdanai insisted he did not do drugs and would not pay, but the men pulled their weapons and he agreed to pay a down-payment totaling 40,000 baht.

The uncle said the extortionists returned five times to collect the additional 10,000 baht, but they were not satisfied. So police set up a sting operation to catch the trio when they returned for another payment.

That’s when things took an unexpected turn for Pongdanai. About eight Pattaya officers caught the three men at Pongdanai’s apartment, but arrested only one, Chieb Jaisa-ngiem, 21, from Trat. To the victim’s horror, the other two - who he learned were former Pattaya cops - were greeted with hugs and conversation by the officers and let go.

Incensed, Nattapong appealed to Chonburi Provincial Police commander Maj. Gen. Khatcha Thatsart and Pattaya Mayor Itthiphol Kunplome. Pattaya Police Superintendent Col. Supachai Puikaewkam appeared to take the issue seriously and pledged there would be an investigation.

Then, that same day, the Thai military staged its government coup. A week later, Thatsart and Supachai were removed from office. The case now appears to have been shelved.

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