Posted on: November 15, 2022, 08:12h. 

Last updated on: November 15, 2022, 05:48h.

An armed heist and shootout last week at an underground gambling den in Thailand didn’t raise any alarms at first. It took a Facebook post about the incident for the police to realize it happened, and there are continuing claims of corruption within the force.

Thailand Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn
Thailand Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn speaks to reporters before his promotion. The national police are investigating the presence of an illegal gambling house that was robbed last week. (Image: Associated Press)

The incident came to light following a post by the Sai Mai Tong Rod Community’s Facebook page, according to The Thaiger. It stated that eight men had robbed an illegal casino on November 9, which led to a shootout.

The post stated that one person was killed and another injured as the thieves got away with THB400,000 (US$11,200). A security guard the police later arrested refuted the claims that anyone was hurt or killed.

A Cop Cover-Up

During interrogation, the unidentified guard stated that he and two of his assistants had been guards at the gambling den for two nights before the incident took place. On the night of November 9, seven men arrived on three motorcycles.

They parked their bikes right in front of the building and two entered. The five others stood guard outside, brandishing their firearms.

The two who assaulted the casino began shouting for everyone to get on the ground. They then robbed the patrons and the casino. One of them threatened a woman with an assault rifle and demanded that she give him her gold necklace, according to the guard.

As they left, the men fired two shots into the sky. The guard responded in kind, telling police that he also only fired into the air and that no one was hit by any of the gunfire. Police arrested the man on charges of illegal possession and illegal discharge of a firearm.

After the incident appeared on social media, Deputy National Police Chief General Surachate Hakparn launched an investigation. He then sent his own officers to take a closer look and they, too, determined that no one had been killed or injured in the shootout.

The revelation that the incident occurred resulted in the transfer of four top officers from the local police station, including Colonel Termrat Jindawat, a regional top cop. After initially claiming that he didn’t know about the incident, Jindawat admitted that the shooting took place.

A man identified as Aow, who runs the restaurant where the gambling allegedly took place, is also under investigation. Last Friday, police and forensic officers visited the restaurant to search for evidence and interrogated him, but didn’t find any gambling equipment. Suspiciously, the security cameras were removed.

Thai Cops on a Mission

After recent reports that Thai cops are possibly abetting illegal gambling operators, the country is on a mission. It wants to show the world that it’s taking its job seriously. That includes launching a series of raids against illegal casinos, both land-based and online.

The most recent action began Monday and is already providing positive results. The police’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD) launched a massive operation that targeted 14 gambling websites spanning the country.

CSD commander Major General Montree Thetkhan said Monday that the operation followed a similar exercise two months ago. In that series of raids, the police agency destroyed 10 gambling sites across the country that were linked to a group called Fat Fast. Police arrested 30 individuals and seized assets worth THB460 million (US$12.93 million).

During the ensuing investigation, police discovered that Fat Fast was part of a larger network of illegal gambling operators in the country. With that information, the CSD was able to expand its investigation and uncover more details, leading to this week’s raids.

Fat Fast has apparently been in business for more than a decade, according to the CSD. The network operates just like any business, complete with marketing, customer service, and finance departments.

Following the arrests, police learned that the Fat Fast empire is massive. It allegedly moves THD7-10 million (US$197,000 to $281,100) each day. As the CSD continues to unravel the organization, more raids and arrests will come.

One leading officer recently tried to downplay the presence of illegal gambling in Thailand. National Police Chief General Damrongsak Kittiprapas said Bangkok had no such activity, despite existing evidence to the contrary.