Chonburi police arrest five in Koh Larn crime sweep

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Chonburi police swept through Koh Larn to rid the tourist isle of police impersonators, drug dealers, loan sharks and gamblers.

Chonburi Station commander Maj. Gen. Khatcha Thatsart led 30 officers on the Oct. 23 raid after receiving information on an organized crime gang committing all sorts of offenses against tourists and locals.

Arrested were leaders Jeerayuth Saejan, 43, Chumpol Sodthaisong, 38, Suchart Panto, 38, Theerapol Pholkhum, 29, and Sirichai Nonthijan, 39, and others. Under interrogation, all admitted to posing as police officers to steal from tourists by collecting 5,000 baht as fines for littering or 10 percent of a “settlement” they’d negotiate with extortionist jet ski vendors. Tourists who didn’t pay are intimidated with threats of physical harm.

Chonburi police have arrested a gang of police impersonators, drug dealers, loan sharks and gamblers on Koh Larn.Chonburi police have arrested a gang of police impersonators, drug dealers, loan sharks and gamblers on Koh Larn.

They also allegedly threw life vests and other valuables into the sea and then blamed the tourists for the damage.

Chonburi deputy commander Col. Suphatheer Bunkhrong went undercover for a month on Koh Larn to help gather evidence on the gang. He said police intervened when it became clear enraged Koh Larn villagers might kill the suspects.

Thai police have a checkered record on law enforcement on Koh Larn. At the same time regional police officials say they want to spend 10 million baht to build a new police station there, Pattaya’s own police chief has said he wants to clean up his own station of corrupt and lazy officers by shipping them off to Koh Larn.