Thai police arrest suspect forgery gang who had a body in the freezer

Police find drugs, guns and a stack of fake documents in apparent crime den.
A foreign member of a suspected passport forgery gang is escorted by police officers after a raid in Bangkok, Thailand, on September 23, 2016.  Reuters
A foreign member of a suspected passport forgery gang is escorted by police officers after a raid in Bangkok, Thailand, on September 23, 2016. Reuters

BANGKOK // Three foreign men belonging to a suspected passport forgery ring were charged on Saturday after police found them with drugs, guns and a dismembered body stashed in the freezer of a Bangkok building.

Police said they are working to confirm the men’s nationalities. All are English speakers and were found with multiple passports, but police suspect they are American or British.

A US embassy spokesman said he was following the case but could not comment.

One of the men grabbed a gun and opened fire during Friday’s raid on the alleged crime den, injuring one officer who has been hospitalised.

Police then rounded up a cache of drugs and guns and discovered the bagged body parts of a man, described as a blond foreigner, inside a padlocked freezer on the ground floor.

“They are charged on five counts including attempting to kill an official on duty, resisting arrest, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, forging official documents and concealing a corpse,” said Chanin Vachirapraneekul, commander of the police station in Bangkok’s Phra Khanong district where the men were taken.

The men, two of whom have grey hair according to photos published in local media, have denied all charges.

A Burmese couple detained with the group told police they were hired to clean the building three times a week and ordered not to open or move the freezer where the dead body was found.

The couple have not been charged with any crime and are being treated as witnesses, said Bangkok’s deputy police commander Suwat Jangyodsuk.

Forensic officers are working to identify the deceased and expect to have autopsy results on Sunday.

“As of now we suspect that they are a passport forgery gang,” said Mr Suwat of the three men in custody. “We seized more than ten fake documents, including passports.”

Thailand has long served as a base for foreign criminals and fugitives lured by its porous borders, lax visa requirements and notoriously easy-to-bribe police force. A thriving forged documents trade has also helped shield countless crime syndicates that populate the kingdom’s vast underworld.

In February Thai police arrested an Iranian man known as “The Doctor” who crafted pristine passports from his home in a Bangkok suburb and sold the documents to thousands around the globe — including gangsters, rebels, refugees and migrant workers.

* Agence France-Presse

Published: September 24, 2016 04:00 AM

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