By Wassayos Ngamkham
Eight elite border patrol police and four civilians were arrested in Bangkok on Friday on charges of kidnapping a businesswoman and her two sons and extorting an 8.7 million baht ransom.
Metropolitan police chief Assawin Kwanmuang said police nabbed the eight officers, led by Nat Chonnithiwanit, 28, who was responsible for anti-narcotics operations in Chumphon, and four civilians involved in the kidnap of Piangjit Pueng-on in Bangkok.
Five more border patrol police officers involved in the kidnap are still at large, said Pol Lt-Gen Assawin.
Police began their investigation after Mrs Piangjit, a garment factory owner, filed a complaint with Bang Phlad district police on Tuesday, shortly after her release.
A highly-placed source said Pol Capt Nat and his team rented a four-storey building, Aree Residence, which has eight VIP rooms, on Soi Aree off Phahon Yothin road on Jan 17.
They had Sirintip Modsakul, a member of the team who had worked for Mrs Piangjit, invite her to a party on Sunday at the rented building where the group used crystal metham-phetamine, also known as ice.
Mrs Piangjit had just received 20 million baht in child support from her divorced husband.
The source said during the party the suspects showed up and pretended to arrest Mrs Piangjit. They then took her to her condominium in Bang Phlad district and took her 10- and 15-year-old sons as hostages in exchange for 8.7 million baht.
Mrs Piangjit and her sons were locked up in Aree Residence before the officers forced her to withdraw the money from her bank accounts.
After receiving the money, the team freed the woman and her children before Mrs Piangjit lodged a complaint with Bang Phlad police.
On Thursday police surrounded the Aree Residence and told the officers to surrender. A number of weapons were also seized.
Pol Lt-Gen Assawin said the gang had brutally assaulted the victims. He suspected Mrs Piangjit was not the first to fall prey to the extortion gang.
The arrested officers face five charges, including armed robbery, forced intrusion, threatening others with weapons, detaining others and abducting minors.
Pol Capt Nat denied all the charges and refused to answer questions, merely saying he was pursuing a drug case in which he previously seized some 1,700 methamphetamine pills in two separate operations in Chumphon.
All the suspects were taken for questioning at Bang Phlad district police station yesterday and were to be sent to court today.
Police chief Seripisuth Temiyavej ordered the officers' commander to sack them.
The five wanted officers are Pol Lt Col Theerasak Klamtago, Pol Sgt-Maj Anuchit Prom-ubon, Pol Sgt-Maj Anusit Netsuwan, Pol Sgt-Maj Wirote Sikao and Pol Sen Sgt-Maj Prasan Sontawee.
Bangkok Post Editorial
I was really amazed to see the gang of beggars doing business openly in the
heart of Sukhumvit, on the pedestrian bridges and footpaths near Soi 12.
Surprisingly, local police regularly patrol the pedestrian bridge in front
of Soi 12.
Anyone, any day, can find disabled, elderly beggars sitting either alone or
with babies the whole day till evening on the footpath and the pedestrian
bridge. The gang members who collect money from these beggars sit or roam
openly on the premises of Leader's Price - the middle-aged, oversized lady
is a known face! We often see her coming out of 7-Eleven or Leader's Price
after buying things with the money collected from these beggars.
The shocking view is the same: beggars are changing babies every day, from
just newborn to six-month-old infants.
We have a municipality officer stationed at the intersection of Sukhumvit
Square at Soi 12. Have they not noticed? Where do the babies come from?
Where do the beggars come from? And we locals are scared of dark influences.
We are now extremely concerned about our kids being stolen by these gangs.
Is anyone out there concerned?
Some stupid shit falang