More crime in Thailand is being linked to foreign gangs attracted to the country’s lifestyle and economic opportunities

Thailand is gearing up efforts to monitor foreigners in the country as there is mounting concern at a spike in activities of foreign criminals. The move is also seen as essential to combat human trafficking and protect the security of Thai citizens in an increasingly dangerous world. The move will also assist Thai police and security authorities ensure the safety of record numbers of foreign visitors to the Kingdom.

Thai government to introduce live database to track foreigners in Thailand
The multitude and complexity of criminal rackets, which pose a security as well as an economic threat to Thai citizens, increasing numbers of foreigners from African countries and a goal to tighten immigration controls is behind a drive by the Thai government to create a live database to monitor foreigners in Thailand. Many western foreigners are concerned on the basis of privacy issues but most welcome efforts to improve security in the Kingdom.

A spokesman form Thailand’s Defense Ministry has recently confirmed that the government is developing a database system to monitor foreigners in Thailand as part of an internal security reform. The system is aimed at monitoring, and at the same, protecting foreign tourists, students and workers.

Most Expat foreigners in Thailand support better security measures

It will be soon integrated with existing security systems that contain information about foreigners to keep a closer watch on them, according to government officials. They also claim that a survey on the locations of expats in Thailand is being carried out and that foreigners who overstay tourist and other visas, will not be tolerated. There is also an intense focus on foreigners engaged in commercial activity in Thailand without a work permit. While some expat foreigners have expressed concern and even raised objections with Thai officials over what appears to be 1984-style approach, the majority see no problem with the proper enforcement of the law and welcome the promise of enhanced security. While there are genuine concerns over privacy, it is increasingly obvious that criminal activity, involving increasingly organised and sophisticated foreign gangs in Thailand, is an issue that must be confronted. The sheer numbers of foreign criminals now active in Thailand and increased networking and cooperation between the groups has prompted Thai authorities to act.

Crying baby alerts Thai woman to Nigerian romance scam gang

In April, Emery Henry Ogba, a Nigerian ‘romance scam’ gang member, was arrested at a department store for fraud.  He is believed to have been assisted by a Thai female conspirator. According to the police reports, the suspect created a fake Facebook profile as an American millionaire named Mark Westwood and befriended a Thai woman through the popular social network. Later, ‘Westwood’ offered to send the victim valuable gifts but demanded that she sent him some money to pay for the transfer fees and taxes. Ogba’s collaborator, a Thai woman posing as a government official, soon called her and persuaded her to follow the request.  The victim did and sent Ogba an equivalent of 97,000 baht. During a phone conversation with the ‘government official’, however, the victim heard a baby cry and realized that she was being deceived. She deduced that it would be impossible to have a crying baby in a government office. Immediately, she filed complaints with police in Lampang’s Koh Ka district. Further investigations showed that Ogba was a member a ‘romance scam’ gang that conned money out of other trusting Thai women by befriending them through Facebook and then ask them to send money to receive gifts or presents. When arrested it was found that Ogba was in possession of three different passports two from Northern Ireland and the other American. One security officer working with one of Thailand’s leading dating sites and social networks told The Thai Examiner that the scale of networks not only Thailand but across the world is vast. ‘They  all collude and network with each other,’ the security officer said. Thai Police have also revealed that there is evidence that some African gangs involved in such scams are also using the moneys generated to fund the purchase of illegal drugs.

700 Nigerians alone currently in Thai prisons

Such crimes are common and there are currently 700 Nigerians alone in Thai prisons. It is estimated that a ‘romance scam’ gang can make as much as 1 million baht a month, much of which is used to buy illegal drugs. One senior Thai Police officer has called for increased screening of foreigners entering the country as a result of the sheer scale of the numbers involved. ‘Police are only those who solve the problem at the end of the river,’ the Head of the Central Investigation Bureau Thailand, Thitiraj Nhonghanpitak, was quoted saying by the Bangkok  Post newspaper. He called for more screening of foreigners by the appropriate government agencies in Thailand.

Moldavian arrested in Thailand for running child pornography website

In May, in co-operation with Dutch police, Thailand’s Technology Crime Suppression Division (TCSD) arrested Serghei Cependiuc, a Moldovian citizen, for organizing a child pornography website. The 30-year-old suspect was accused of being one of the administrators for a website that stored and distributed audio and video files of foreign child pornography. The website charged each customer S$19.95 (635 baht) per month and was thought to have generated almost $4 million every year in income. Though Cependiuc has lived in Thailand since 2009 with his Thai wife, there is thought to be no Thai collaborator. It is likely that the website boss will be tried in Thailand. This week, the website itself was closed by police in the Netherlands where its server was located.

Ugandan prostitution racket that used ‘black magic’ smashed by Thai police

At the same time, Thailand’s anti-trafficking forces smashed a major prostitution ring operated by Ugandans in Bangkok and other urban centres. The victims were Ugandan human trafficking victims. The gang was led by a woman nicknamed ‘Sadaa’, who is believed to have deceiving hundreds of Ugandan women into working as prostitutes in Thailand and other Asian countries. The victims were promised good jobs in Thailand’s service sector and given some money in advance. But when they arrived in the country, they were forced to work in the sex industry to pay for the trip’s cost. So far, there have been arrest warrants issued in Thailand for 30 Ugandan human traffickers. Several victims have gone back to their country while others are assisting immigration authorities in their inquiries. However, the process will take some time as most victims are afraid of speaking out because of the African human traffickers threatened use ‘black magic’ or ’voodoo’ on their families back home in Africa in retaliation. It has also been revealed that three of human traffickers have already been tried before a special fast track Thai court set up to deal with human trafficking. Thai Police Lieutenant General, Jaruvat Vaisaya, told a press conference that there are currently thirty Ugandan women being held at a detention centre in Bangkok operated by the Thai Immigration Department.