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As recent raids and investigations in Thailand have highlighted potential links between Chinese gangsters and Thai officials, police have been investigating businesses and foundations suspected of helping Chinese nationals illegally stay in Thailand.
Whereas the exact extent of crime committed by Chinese criminals in Thailand is yet to be known, the loot from illicit operations committed by alleged Chinese gangsters operating in Thailand, already includes, supercars, drugs, and opulent houses.
More than 5 billion baht (US$113 million) have already been seized, including a plane, land, and three mansions, and the Chinese ownership of several mansions in prestigious Bangkok complexes is being looked into.
Former massage parlor tycoon and Chinese triads
Following information on Chinese triads in Thailand that was provided to authorities by former massage parlor tycoon Chuwit Kamolvisit, the inquiry got underway last month. An arrest warrant for reputed drug lord Chainat “Tuhao” Kornchayanan was issued promptly as a result of Chuwit’s information.
Chainat obtained Thai citizenship through his marriage to a prominent Thai police officer. On November 23, he turned himself in to the police and said he was innocent of all charges.
After more than 200 Chinese nationals were detained at a drug party in Bangkok’s Sathorn district on October 25, the police stepped up their investigations into suspected Chinese mafia bosses operating in Thailand.
Subsequent arrests have identified five alleged Chinese gangs operating illegal businesses using fictitious Thai identities and student visas. One suspected mastermind detained in the beginning of November even had a car equipped with fake Chinese embassy license plates, and a bogus police escort car.
Raids over the ensuing weeks uncovered an astounding list of assets derived from illegal operations established in Thailand, including a US$5.7 million mansion, millions of US dollars in cash, and methamphetamine stashes concealed inside luxury condos in some of Bangkok’s most prestigious buildings.
Tainted immigration scheme under investigation
In addition to hunting for further possibly concealed assets and bank accounts, police are investigating how Tuhao became a citizen of Thailand after spending only a few years in the kingdom.
To investigate the claim that former senior Immigration Bureau (IB) personnel accepted bribes in exchange for accepting visa requests for Chinese nationals entering Thailand, a special inquiry panel has been established.
The alleged plan gave the gangs the opportunity to establish to remain in the kingdom and bring thousands of their other countrymen in by paying Thai immigration authorities to let them create phony foundations, which they then used to obtain volunteer visas.