2 soldiers detained after extortion complaint

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Two Thai military officers were detained, but not charged, after they allegedly colluded with a pair of South Korean gangsters to extort a half-million baht from a Pattaya massage parlor owner.

Maj. Prawee Jindawan and Master Sgt. 1st Class Chalermyut Thongmak were escorted to Pattaya Police Station April 6 after they allegedly set up a meeting to receive the extortion payment at the Big C Extra mall from Siriyupa Thongdee, owner of the World Massage, and her husband, Jung Wu Kim.

The alleged extortionists were caught on the massage shop’s CCTV cameras.The alleged extortionists were caught on the massage shop’s CCTV cameras.

The couple had gone to police after the two soldiers and unidentified South Korea men, believed to be part of a criminal syndicate, showed up at their shop demanding 500,000 baht within 24 hours. If they did not pay, they would be harmed, Siriyupa quoted the men as saying.

Siriyupa said her husband, a man known only as Mr. Chang, and several other Koreans and Thais – including some military personnel – had hatched a plan to open a pub in Buriram. They went to inspect the site and Jung came home telling his wife he thinks his intended partners were angry with him for some unknown reason.

The plan for the pub was dropped and he thought the matter was concluded until the extortionists showed up at the shop.

Prawee – who reportedly put on airs, claiming his rank was too high for Pattaya police to question him – finally agreed to talk to police, but not before telephoning Pattaya police superintendent Col. Sukthat Pumpunmuang in an apparent attempt at having the matter quashed.

He told police that Mr. Chang had taken 500,000 baht from him and his partners and they had gone to the massage parlor merely to inquire if Jung knew about the missing money.

Pattaya police bowed to the military officer’s wishes and let him go without charges. Prawee said he’d take his pursuit of the missing money to Bangkok and file a police report there.