Press were briefed on Tuesday at 4.30 pm by Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang who revealed that a cannabis factory for the production and distribution of narcotics was also discovered on the second floor of the home the couple had purchased three years ago in the Khan Na Yao district of Bangkok.
Thai police raided a home in eastern Bangkok on Tuesday and arrested an American and his Thai wife on charges of forgery connected with a Thai company and service providing illegal visas to foreigners in the country. They also discovered what appears to be a cannabis factory.
Police top brass including the Director of the Immigration Bureau, Police Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang, on Tuesday afternoon at 4.30 pm gave a press conference detailing the arrest of an American national and his Thai wife in the Khan Na Yao District, in eastern Bangkok.
The pair were arrested on the basis of a warrant issued by the Chachoengsao Provincial Court on 31st July for forgery and the use of false documentation.
Company operated as the Thai Visa Centre
Police investigating the activity of the couple had discovered that they were behind a business from Bangna operated by a company that had set up known as the Thai Visa Centre.
Police revealed that the pair had been producing forged official documents as part of the service. The visa centre has suggested in recent days that it was expanding and taking on more staff such was the demand for the service it provided as a ‘visa agent’ for the immigration bureau.
‘The suspects established a company called the Thai Visa Centre, offering a visa-forging service for foreigners and advertising via the Internet,’ Lieutenant General Sompong explained. ‘We tracked down their operation to a house in Soi Seri Thai 73 in Khan Na Yao District.’
Confusion as the Thai Visa Centre on Wednesday repeatedly told customers that staff member ‘Grace’ was no longer with them but the service continues
Throughout Wednesday, it has emerged that the Thai Visa Centre in Bangkok which had many satisfied customers, is claiming to be still in operation.
It is also claiming, through non-personal social media communications with customers, that the matter reported by the Royal Thai Police relates specifically to an employee of the company.
However, this flies in the face of the official statement by the Immigration Bureau, Police Chief Lieutenant General Sompong Chingduang, on Tuesday, clearly suggesting that the couple arrested by police this week for using fake documents, operated an illegal drugs business and were the founders or principals of the Thai Visa Center in Bangna.
The Thai Visa centre, in a statement, highlighted that all visas issued through its office were ‘officially obtained through immigration’ and were on the national database.
Precedent for holders of invalid visas or forged stamps being arrested, jailed and held liable
Some customers who had paid sums of up to ฿30,000 in advance of receiving approved visas have reported visiting the company’s offices on Wednesday and that the centre was operating as normal.
The company’s social media account insisted that all its visas are issued by the Immigration Office with a proper receipt.
However, it may well be that any visa processed using an illegal stamp may subsequently be invalidated.
There is also a precedent of foreigners in Thailand being arrested and jailed after being found to be in possession of an invalid visa or one processed, at any stage, with a forged stamp.
Couple arrested named as 31-year-old American, Vincent Chad Scira and 34-year-old Grace Scira
The pair were named by police as 31-year-old US citizen Vincent Chad Scira and his 34-year-old Thai wife, Grace Scira. The warrant executed this week by police, Ref No. 194/2453, specifically identified Ms Grace.
Police revealed that the couple had purchased a home in the Khan Na Yao area of Bangkok three years ago but that their investigation has linked the home to the criminal activities being investigated into the use of false documents.
The raid, this week, on the property, led police to discover a range of 55 rubber stamps used to forge official documents and purporting to be authentic stamps associated with government departments and agencies.
A full investigation into the activities of the couple both into their illegal visa business and their drug trading activity has commenced.
Told police that the cannabis was for personal use
The raid also revealed a cannabis production and packaging factory which, despite protestation from the suspects that the cannabis was for personal use, has led police to conclude that the couple were operating a significant business distributing the narcotic and its derivatives on a commercial scale.
‘On the second floor of the house officials also found 60 cannabis plants being grown organically, 99 grams of dried cannabis, a cannabis oil extractor, a vacuum sealer, a weighing apparatus and several items to take cannabis,’ Lieutenant General Sompong said.
Drugs, processing, weighing and packing facilities found upstairs in the 2nd-floor narcotics factory
This operation was found on the second floor of the house where police found over 90 grams of dried cannabis, a cannabis oil extractor, weighing scales and a range of containers including plastic bags and a vacuum sealer.
The senior police officer says that the couple used the internet to market their illegal visa racket through a Thai company which supplied foreigners with fake and illegal visas to live in Thailand.
The raid on the couple’s home and the discovery of the cannabis drug factory has led police to expand their investigation into their activities and their network of potential contacts and accomplices.
Local police trawling through the couple’s business and bank records as part of their investigation
This is reported to include a review of their banking history to establish if they are linked to larger drug players and as the groundwork for a seizure order to be made against their assets.
This would certainly follow if police can establish that their home was obtained from the proceeds of illegal drug activity.
Charges of forgery, the use of fake documents as well as the commercial sale and distribution of drugs
The couple are already facing a slew of serious charges which may be added to.
These include the original charge of forgery and the use of false documents linked with the warrant issued for Ms Grace.
Following the raid, it will also include the production and distribution for commercial purposes of a type 5 classified narcotic.
The investigation is being led by police at Bang Chan Police Station in the Khan Na Yao district of Bangkok near where the couple have been living.