Pattaya police chief fired in gambling-raid controversy

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Pol. Col. Suwan Cheaonawinthawat today is out of a job as Pattaya’s police superintendent after Royal Thai Police commanders removed him following a Banglamung District gambling raid.

Suwan was “transferred to an inactive post” at police headquarters six days after the May 2 operation by district officials at three Pattaya addresses that netted 11 arrests and the confiscation of slot machines and 75,000 baht cash.

The chief’s removal was ordered in Bangkok and carried out by Chonburi Police commander Maj. Gen. Khatcha Thatsart.

Pol. Col. Suwan Cheaonawinthawat.Pol. Col. Suwan Cheaonawinthawat.

Suwan was en route to a conference in Chiang Mai at the time of the raid and initial reports had only Banglamung District officials participating in the raid. The superintendent quickly was recalled to Pattaya to attend a press conference the day after the operation, during which Banglamung District Chief Sakchai Taengho went to great lengths to convince reporters that police had indeed participated in the raid.

Royal Thai Police commanders in Bangkok weren’t convinced, however. While Khatcha did not disclose the exact reasons for Suwan’s dismissal, his non-participation in the raid made his higher ups believe that either Suwan didn’t know about the casinos, or he had allowed them to operate without police intervention. In the eyes of Royal Thai Police commanders, either one was a firing offense.

Suwan becomes the second consecutive Pattaya police superintendent to be fired or suspended due to gambling-related controversies. Suwan’s predecessor, Col. Thummanoon Mankhong, was transferred to an inactive post for 60 days last July for dropping charges against 74 people arrested in a gambling raid.

That suspension came after a complaint from a Bo Win Police Station commander who led a June 22 raid of a South Pattaya gambling den. Thummanoon was accused of rebuking the raiding officers, releasing the suspects and dismissing evidence without further interrogation.