The 59-year-old German man had retired to live in Thailand after working in Europe as a truck driver. He is understood to have drifted into the thriving drug dealing business in Pattaya after meeting his relationship partner, a 29-year-old trans woman, at a local nightclub in the seaside resort.
A retired German man and his transgender partner were arrested in Pattaya on Sunday evening after the couple was found in possession of 39 grammes of crystal methamphetamine with intent to sell to an undercover police officer in the Banglamung area of the city. The arrest is the latest in a recurring pattern where a small fringe group of western foreigners turn to drugs to fund their lifestyle and relationships in the kingdom.
The Narcotics Suppression Bureau of the Royal Thai Police led an undercover sting operation in Pattaya on Sunday night which led to a 59 year old German national being arrested together with his 29-year-old relationship partner, reported to be a Thai transgender individual.
The pair arrested were named by police as Mr Claus Mike Haberstroh and Ms Panadchai Noo-chit who were living at a house on Soi Khao Talo 5 in the Nong Prue area of Banglamung in the resort city.
Arrest came at the hands of police anti-drugs agency targeting the couple who were active dealers
The Narcotics Suppression Bureau is a police agency in Thailand that investigates drug-related activities and identifies those who are linked with the illicit trade.
It is reported that Mr Haberstroh was formerly a truck driver in Germany before he moved to Thailand to retire.
He met Ms Panadchai also known as ‘Po Po’ and originally from Yasothon province, at a nightlife venue in the city.
The two were involved in a relationship and later became involved and known as players in the local drugs trade.
Trap sprung with ‘ice’ drug package handed over
Sunday’s arrest came about after an undercover agent placed an order with Mr Haberstroh for the crystal methamphetamine drug or ‘ice’ and picked the package up at the couple’s home. Money had earlier been deposited into the German’s bank account as requested.
Police arrested the couple at the scene after the foreigner handed over 9.16 grams of ‘ice’ to the undercover police officer.
Both have been charged with possession of illicit narcotics with intent to sell and assets with a reported value of ฿300,000 were seized as part of the police investigation into the activities of the pair.
Foreigners linked to the drug trade in Pattaya include an Australian Thai couple sentenced to death in 2018
Pattaya has a long history of western foreigners being found involved in the drugs trade.
A 37-year-old Australian man Mr Luke Cook, and his 42-year-old Thai wife Kanyarat Wechapitak, were sentenced to death in 2018 in relation to a plot to import a huge quantity of crystal methamphetamine for an Australian bikers gang.
The couple owned a thriving business in the city while Mr Cook also worked offshore.
The pair had developed contacts with the notorious ‘Hells Angels’ bikers gang who had developed a criminal network in the resort city and were accused of purchasing a huge drug shipment from a Chinese syndicate which was to be later shipped to Australia.
Australian man pleads for help for his son and Thai wife sentenced to death for failed drug trafficking plot at sea
A tale of murder and betrayal followed which ultimately led to the arrest of the Australian and his wife just before Christmas in 2017 as he was planning to return home.
In March 2020, an Australian TV exposé broadcast on 9News claimed the pair had been set up and framed by associates in the same gang.
American and Thai girlfriend arrested in the same area of Pattaya in 2019, a story which ended tragically
In the same neighbourhood as Sunday night’s arrest in Pattaya, Banglamung, another Western Thai couple were taken in by police in July 2019 for the sale and distribution of crystal methamphetamine at their condo.
Again, like this Sunday, it was another undercover police team and sting operation.
That couple, a US man and his Thai girlfriend were taken to Pattaya Police station.
That story was to have a tragic ending as the American man, 39-year-old Bart Allen Helmus and his Thai wife, 30-year-old Sirinapa Wisetrit later made a dramatic, armed escape from Pattaya Provincial Court during one of the court hearings in the case that followed in which a court prison officer was left critically injured.
This led to a huge manhunt and the eventual death of Mr Helmus.
He died after being fatally shot in a police shootout four months later when Helmus and his partner were eventually cornered in a plantation by armed police.
Danish man arrested in January and ฿11 million in assets later seized by investigating police agencies
The most recent arrest of a western drug dealer in Pattaya came in January when 41-year-old Dane, Oersted Meyer Jensen, was arrested for dealing in category 1 and 2 narcotics with an undercover team at a hospital in the city which were to be used for a poolside sex party.
The Dane was arrested by police at a coffee shop at the medical facility when he handed over drugs, mostly crystal methamphetamine, with a street value of ฿10,000.
Mr Jensen was known to have been active in the drug trade in the city for six or seven years according to Provincial Police Region 2 and was also known as ‘John Finn’.
Authorities later went on to seize assets worth approximately ฿11 million and the foreigner was detained while a legal prosecution for trading and the distribution of drugs was launched against him.
Drug dealing trade attracts fringe groups of foreigners in Thailand when the lifestyle money dries up
The attraction of the money-spinning drugs trade to a small minority of foreigners in Thailand when money dries up and a desirable lifestyle must be maintained, particularly when family or a relationship is involved, has become an accepted leitmotif of the story of some of the foreigners coming to live in Thailand since the 1960s.
The tales invariably end badly with arrest, imprisonment or even worse.
There are scores of western foreigners serving long jail sentences in Thailand’s notorious prison system and even more who have survived to tell the tale as home in the West.
Italian imported drugs in noodles from Amsterdam while living the dream on the island of Ko Phangan
In 2019, an Italian man, 39-year-old Naomi Cometto, living the Thai dream on the idyllic island of Koh Phangan with his Thai wife, was arrested after police in Bangkok intercepted noodles being sent from Amsterdam that contained ecstasy pills.
This was followed by a raid on the Italian’s traditional raised Thai style home by the local police force on the island where 16 grams of crystal methamphetamine were seized.
Police later discovered that the Italian had an income of ฿25,000 which was sent to him every month by his family in Italy which he then augmented with his drug-dealing activities until the day of reckoning came.
UK man’s secret double life came to a crashing halt one day in August 2018 after he attracted suspicion
Mr Cometto was more fortunate however than UK man David John Sewell.
The 60-year-old British expat, living in Udon Thani, was killed when his car hit a 16 wheel truck at speed on a highway outside the provincial city in August 2018.
He was being pursued by two police cars at speed after a local patrol had called in for backup.
The UK man panicked when approached by police earlier after he was observed acting suspiciously. He was.
Inside his car were bags of crystal methamphetamine and cocaine as the Brit, unknown to police before then and living happily with his Thai wife for many years, had become an active drug dealer supplying a range of Thai and foreign clients throughout the province.