WHILE Chinese grey capitalist gangs having been ransom kidnapping wealthy people in Myanmar’s Tachileik town, which abuts Thailand’s Mae Sai town, this criminal activity has not crossed the border to the Thai side, Matichon newspaper said today (Mar. 18).
Ms. Phakaimas Viera, president of the Mae Sai Chamber of Commerce, said a ransom kidnapping in Tachileik in the middle of this month as reported by the Tachileik News Agency website did actually occur.
This involved Chinese grey businessmen with a large number of them now doing business in the Myanmar border town including investment in hotels, accommodations and various services.
The motive for this kidnapping is uncertain but Myanmar authorities are investigating.
However Phakaimas underscored that this sort of criminal activity is not taking place on the Thai side with trading and investment continuing normally.
It has been observed that the victims are chosen and kidnapping is not commonplace. Even so Thai authorities are following up on this development across the border.
According to Tachileik News Agency many ransom kidnappings have taken place in the Myanmar border town with the latest one being on Thursday March 16 when a gang of four kidnappers who had completely obscured their face with a hood and mask drove into a market at 8.50 p.m. and went into a grocery store.
They then used their firearm to threaten the staff and shoppers and handcuffed a woman who seemed to be in charge and took her away. The whole incident was captured by a surveillance camera installed in front of the store.
However the victim was released shortly afterwards after the gang found out that she is not the owner of the store.
The ransom Chinese grey kidnappers demand is 2 to 3 million baht a victim.
A source in Tachileik said Myanmar authorities are investigating the kidnappings in the middle of the town with several having taken place.
On March 1 a shopkeeper selling goods was kidnapped by four armed men believed to be the same gang that later kidnapped the grocery store worker and his fate is unknown.
There are several motives for these kidnappings including settling gambling debts and getting large ransoms from wealthy families.
As the criminals communicated in Chinese language it is believed that they are part of gangs of Chinese grey businessmen who have come to Tachileik.
However ordinary people on both sides of the border are not bothered by the spate of kidnappings because the criminals target well-off folk.
Kidnappers at a Tachileik grocery store. Photo: Matichon