A GANG of five policemen were arrested in southern Pattani province on the charges of intimidating and extorting money and assets from drug addicts and the family of those arrested on drug charges, Thai Rath newspaper said today (Sept. 20).
At 3 a.m. this morning Pol. Col. Mustapha Mani, superintendent of Yaring police station, was notified by Mr. Anwa Cheso, headman of Laem Pho sub-district, that some men claiming to be policemen had entered this area.
He then quickly went to check and found five men dressed like policemen searching some youths at a seaside resort and trying to extort money from them.
As a check showed these five men were not police officers they were all detained. The suspects were identified as Mr. Sukree Jaeto of Songkhla province, Mr. Kamee Sama of Pattani province, Mr. Usman Yama of Pattani province, Mr. Muhammad Hadiman of Pattani province and Mr. Basmi Baka of Songkhla province.
Also seized were two sedans, bullet-proof vests, police uniforms and mobile phones.
Pol. Col. Mustapha said police had earlier got information that a gang pretending to be policemen were intimidating and extorting people in Yaring district and nearby areas by forcing them to go through a urine test so alerted village headmen to be on the lookout for them.
Police were tipped off that this gang is going to go to Laem Pho area, Yaring district, and alerted the village headman there to set up a checkpoint. When the gang showed up at 3 a.m. he and his team quickly called the police.
This gang, which has been operating in Yaring district for two months, usually targeted drug-related victims because they are unlikely to go and file a complaint at the police station.
One of the fake cops had also claimed to the Deputy Superintendent for Investigations in the three southern border provinces and called night shift policemen at some stations to get information about drug suspects who were detained there. After that, they tracked down their relatives to tell them they could help lobby for the suspect’s release for a fee. However after the money was transferred they just disappeared.
The arrested fake cops. Photos: Thai Rath