NEWS
HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

Sangduen named Asian Heroine for her work in elephant conservation

Cold wind from China drops temperatures in North

Citizens turn out in force to condemn government mega projects

HRH Princess Patchara Kittiyapa aid packages distributed to flood victims

Night Safari scheduled to open in November

Armed robber takes wife and kids along to bank hold-up

Phrae villagers blockade city hall

Flood mitigation scheme

Consumer groups support the anti-smoking drive

DCA licenses two airports 270 metres apart

Mae Hong Son governor announces pursuit of drug dealers

Man shot dead in quarrel over parking lot

Four villages in Mae Maw are to be relocated

Bag snatcher threatens to jump from building

Five North Korean aliens found in Chiang Saen

Officials and police form plan for Drug War 4

Chiang Saen customs seize 30,000 ml of bird flu vaccine

Burglar with 40 break-ins to his record apprehended

1 million baht collection of small Buddha images stolen from Lamphun temple

Gambling den raid nets 32 people

Suicide judgment given over three men found hanged in cell

200 policemen search for drug dealer after shoot-out

Police roadblock nets ya ba gang

Angry woman sets fire to her hotel room

Dealers take advantage of the flood to transfer drugs to Samutprakan

Sangduen named Asian Heroine for her work in elephant conservation

Nopniwat Krailerg

A Chiang Mai woman, well known at home and overseas for her work in elephant conservation, is to receive an award from TIME Magazine, who named her as an Asian Heroine for her environmental work.

Sangduen “Lek” Chailert and a little elephant at Elephant Nature Park. (Photo Courtesy of Sangduen Chailert)

Sangduen “Lek” Chailert, 45, is an elephant conservation worker for the Elephant Nature Park in Mae Taeng, Chiang Mai and is the founder of the Thai Elephant Conservation Foundation.

She is currently working with 18 foreign volunteers from countries worldwide and veterinarians to treat ill and injured elephants in an area of conserved forest that is rented from the government. Covering around 2,400 rai, the land is 55 kilometers away from the city of Chiang Mai.

Sangduen’s work has attracted the attention and support of some leading figures in Hollywood, and her story has been well aired in the international media, including articles in National Geographic, the New York Times and The Independent.

The current issue of TIME Magazine also covers her work, in an article that focuses on the heroes and heroines of Asia. This is an annual feature by TIME, profiling those in the region who are prepared to fight for environmental causes. An award will be presented to Sangduen during a ceremony in Taipei, Taiwan, on November 23.

This very modest heroine told Chiangmai Mail that she had been interested in elephants from the time she was a student at Chiang Mai Teachers College. She followed a mission that went to a Karen village near the border in Mae Hong Son to learn about elephants. From that point, she realized that elephants needed help, and she began a serious pursuit of her interest in 1992.

Sangduen has also received a Hero of the Planet award from the Ford Foundation in 1999 and the Genesis Award 2003, the latter given by Hollywood for those who benefit the environment.

She said that she had never expected to receive any awards, but she was very proud of being recognized for her work. She said that the TIME article had been written after one of her volunteer workers revealed he was a TIME reporter, and requested that the magazine name her one of Asia’s heroines for the year 2005.

There are 27 elephants in the Elephant Nature Park under Sangduen’s care. Some of them are sick while some have been injured. Some have been hurt because they have been taken along city streets to beg for money, others have become addicted to drugs fed to them to make them work harder in jobs such as logging.

In addition to the elephants there are 50 dogs and 30 cats being treated in this center.

Sangduen says that the law to protect and conserve elephants should be applied seriously otherwise elephants will rapidly decrease in numbers.

In addition to her elephant conservation work, Sangduen runs a tour agency business called Gem Travel, located on Chang Klan Road opposite the Night Bazaar.


Cold wind from China drops temperatures in North

Nopniwat Krailerg

Worapoj Kunaniwatanakul, Northern Meteorological Center officer, has said that the weather in the North is becoming colder and foggier at present because of a cold wind blowing in from China.

From the middle of November until January, temperatures will be around 3-9 degrees Celsius on the mountaintops. Winter will finish in February. This kind of weather will attract tourists seeking a respite from the warmer parts of the country, he said.

Worapoj warned residents to beware of thunder showers and strong gusting winds that can cause damage and injury. He said there would be frost on mountain peaks and thick fog in December to January that might cause trouble for agricultural production.

During this period, high pressure and cold air from China will cover the north and north-east of Thailand and temperatures could on occasions drop as low as 2 degrees Celsius.


Citizens turn out in force to condemn government mega projects

Demanding a return to democracy, not autocracy

Saksit Meesubkwang

Almost 500 Chiang Mai residents, including well-known businessmen, scholars, artists, authors, monks and other prominent citizens rallied on October 9 to criticize government policy on developing the province.

Khon Rak Muang Chiang Mai Alliance that consists of 40 organizations jointly with almost 500 businessmen, academics, artists, authors, monks and citizens gather at Kroo Ba Sri Wichai Monument.

The demonstration was organized by Khon Rak Muang Chiang Mai Alliance, which encompasses 40 organizations and a large number of concerned citizens.

Staged at Wat Srisoda in Muang, Chiang Mai, the rally condemned ideas such as the Night Safari and a theme park.

(From left) Dr Phra Maha Boonchuay, monk and university lecturer, Jamlaw Somjit, former government official and fighter for peace, Soontharee Wechanon, local singer (right) and Buason Muangphrao, local musician (2nd right).

The meeting was headed by Dr Phra Maha Boonchuay, a monk and university lecturer, Jamlaw Somjit, former government official and fighter for peace, Soontharee Wechanon, a renowned local singer, and Buason Muangphrao, a greatly respected local musician.

Dr Phra Maha Boonchuay said it was good that the government was trying to develop the country to world standards but they stressed too much on the material aspects.

The big projects were being considered by the government only, without consulting citizens or asking for opinions from residents, although these would be the ones most directly affected by these projects. Furthermore, attracting tourists was not a matter of providing the latest technology but promoting the history and precious heritage of Chiang Mai.

Jumlaw Somjit said that projects costing several hundred billion baht would be funded by tax payers. Therefore it was not appropriate to create these projects without consultation.

The example of the tram car station at Kroo Ba Sri Wichai Monument and the building of a new route to Doi Suthep were cited. Residents had not known about this until a 50 million baht study had been approved. Jumlaw said that Kroo Ba Sri Wichai Monument was a place that Lanna residents adore and worship, and that if changes were made it could have a devastating effect on many people and the way in which they thought of their national government.

After the meeting the crowd marched from Wat Srisoda to Kroo Ba Sri Wichai Monument.

There, Soontharee Wechanon announced five issues: 1. All Chiang Mai citizens have the right to determine lifestyle and cultural equally; 2. Chiang Mai residents should be informed concerning projects that affect directly their culture and environment and they should be a part of the consideration process; 3. Chiang Mai residents have the freedom to determine whatever happens concerning their lives, culture and environment without any interference and influence; 4. Chiang Mai residents have the right to jointly develop the province with the government; and 5. Chiang Mai citizens will prevent violation of lifestyle, culture and environment by peaceful methods.


HRH Princess Patchara Kittiyapa aid packages distributed to flood victims

Nopniwat Krailerg

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Thongchai Wongrianthong on October 5 received 1,160 aid packages from the Asa Puan Pueng (Pa) Yam Yak Foundation set up by Her Royal Highness Princess Patchara Kittiyapa.

The first assistance caravan went to two villages at Tambon Yang Nueng in Saraphi where 466 packages were presented, while the second delivery was to Wat Suan Dok in Muang, Chiang Mai which is working in cooperation with Chiang Mai Red Cross and Chiang Mai University.

The deputy governor said that many citizens were suffering hardship because of the three separate floods that have occurred within the period of a few weeks.

Government organizations and other sectors were doing all they can to help, and that where the government was unable to supply aid the private sector had provided immense help, which was a true example of society working together to face its problems.

Akome Tantrakul, Chiang Mai University vice president said that after the latest floods CMU had established a project under the name of Maw Chaw Ruam Duay Chuay Nam Tuam. The project in association with alliances had assisted flood victims with aid packages, medicines, food, drinks and necessary supplies both in Chiang Mai and other nearby areas.


Night Safari scheduled to open in November

Even if there are not enough animals

Saksit Meesubkwang

Chiang Mai Night Safari is behind its target in building up a collection of animals but will still open during November.

Chiang Mai Night Safari is ready to open in November during the Loy Krathong Festival, despite falling behind in its target for animal acquisition.

The original date for opening was in April, during the Songkran Festival, but this was postponed to November, when the Night Safari is due to open during Loy Krathong.

Director of animal management, Supoj Methapiwat said that 50 kinds of the 600 animals have been received from the Zoological Park Organization and private zoos, and had already been transferred into the safari. He said that the eventual target is to have between 90 and 100 different kinds of animals, with a total of 1,600 animals.

There has been a problem in meeting the targets because international bodies in Africa and Australia are resisting the export of animals from their countries into Thailand, saying the animals might be affected because of the relocation and different diet.

Construction of the buildings and animal display areas is almost 100 percent complete, with only minor works left before the opening.


Armed robber takes wife and kids along to bank hold-up

A regular family outing

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

An armed robber entered the Bangkok Bank Pho Khun Meng Rai junction branch in Muang, Chiang Rai, discharged his gun into the air and forced bank officers to pack about 600,000 baht into a bag. Then he fled.

Witnesses saw the robber get into a car in which there was also a woman and two children, and he drove off in the direction of Thoeng district.

When he reached Thasai TAO area he let the woman and children out of the car and drove away alone. Police in pursuit caught up with the robber and shot at his vehicle. He stopped and surrendered.

The man was identified as Hoifooj Seng, 39, a Malaysian, while the woman was his Thai wife Naraporn Lamoonphan, 24. The two children were theirs, a girl of four and a boy of three.

An automatic gun with 30 bullets and the stolen cash were found in the vehicle. Seng told police he was in financial trouble and he could not deal with it, so he robbed the bank without informing his wife and the two children beforehand. His troubles now are more than just financial.


Phrae villagers blockade city hall

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

300 people gathered in front of Phrae City Hall on October 10 to protest that they were being stopped from collecting forest materials they needed for building furniture products.

The problem arose in Denchai district, where the villagers said they needed to collect roots and tree stumps but were being forbidden to do so by forest officers and Territorial Defense Volunteers. This was affecting their livelihood, they said.

Demonstrators blocked the entrances and exits to city hall and sent in a representative to consult with Samart Loifa, Phrae deputy governor.

Villagers said officials appear to have assumed they were working for businessmen who had bribed some officers to allow them to cut teak in the forests. They said they had nothing to do with anyone else, and all they wanted was to collect stumps and tree roots that they could use in their furniture making businesses.

Samart said that conservation of natural resources was part of government policy, as the nation’s resources were dwindling. If businessmen had been doing as the villagers suggested, evidence was required to prosecute them.

The deputy governor said he would record the names of those who needed the materials and consult with other sectors so the matter could be resolved during the course of this month.


Flood mitigation scheme

6 billion baht reservoir project

Nopniwat Krailerg

Sangrat Benjapong, director of Chiang Mai First Irrigation Office, has said that a plan for reservoir construction to prevent further flooding has now been drawn up and presented to the government.

If the project is given the go-ahead, three reservoirs will be constructed: one in Chiang Dao with 80 million cubic meters capacity, one in Wiang Haeng with 110 million cubic meters and one of the same capacity in Mae Taeng. Total cost for the three would be 6 billion baht.

Indications are, however, that the government will push for smaller reservoirs. Additionally, when provisional approval is given on any scheme, a further study will be needed to calculate the environmental effect. This will mean that between three and five years will pass before Chiang Mai has its urgently required flood prevention scheme.


Consumer groups support the anti-smoking drive

Saksit Meesubkwang and Preeyanoot Jittawong

Public support is growing for the new laws designed to prevent the display of cigarette packs in shops and other retail outlets, with consumer groups backing the campaign.

Chiang Mai Governor Suwat Tantipat with Chiang Mai Consumer Protection Club, Northern Consumer Network and Laryngectomees Association in Thailand, plus students from various institutes show their support for the anti-smoking campaign.

Chiang Mai Consumer Protection Club, Northern Consumer Network and the Laryngectomees Association of Thailand, together with students from various institutes gathered at Chiang Mai City Hall to meet Governor Suwat Tantipat on October 4.

They presented a report on measures being taken to prevent the display of cigarette advertisements and packets, saying that the response has been good but there are still some business owners who did not follow the guidelines and who were openly displaying packets of cigarettes in their shops.

The gathering said they agree on the following points and that it was important to get the message across that smoking is harmful to the health:

1. Cigarettes are harmful for both the smoker and for people nearby who inhale the smoke. Smoking weakens the health, affects brain growth in children, and can cause personality problems.

2. The group supports the law that prevents cigarette displays at the front of shops to protect consumers, especially youngsters.

3. The group supports the no-smoking campaign.

4. They encourage all sectors of government and consumer groups to stamp out cigarette advertisements and to support the anti-smoking campaign.

5. They express thanks to business owners who not display cigarettes at the front of their shops.


DCA licenses two airports 270 metres apart

Many unanswered questions

Kan Connell

The Department of Civil Aviation has granted an operating permit to a new small airport in North Thailand, which is located across the threshold of an existing airport. In the opinion of experienced pilots this creates a potentially very dangerous situation.

The two airports have conflicting runways.

The traffic patterns of the two airports are in direct conflict and even with good operational discipline, a small mistake by a student pilot or a radio failure on an incoming plane could result in a potentially fatal mid-air collision due to the extremely close proximity of the two airports and their conflicting traffic patterns.

The existing airport, Chiang Mai Lanna (Ban Thi) Airport, has been in operation for four years and is laid out on an East-West orientation. The new airport, Nok Airport, has been constructed approximately on a North-South direction and just 270 metres from the threshold of the Lanna Ban Thi runway.

Aircraft using this airport normally take off on runway 09 to the West and land in the opposite direction on runway 27. This is to avoid noise over a local village and stay clear of some obstructions. This means that for an aircraft to take off from Lanna Ban Thi, it must fly straight through the traffic pattern of the Nok airport. Almost all aviation people say this gives rise to a potentially very dangerous situation.

The owners of the Lanna Ban Thi Airport have sent five letters to the Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) with copies to the Ministry of Transport, objecting to the dangerous location of the second airfield. While the DCA say they have no control over what is built on private property, they do have full control over the safety of the airspace above. This they seem to be ignoring. Also, no one is going to build an airfield on private property without the prior approval of the DCA.

While it is difficult to understand why the DCA has licensed a second airport in such close and potentially unsafe proximity to an existing airport, the DCA has also departed from standard operation procedures for the issuance of the license of this new airport.

Previously, in order to grant an operating license to a new airport, the DCA has required agreements from neighboring airports on air traffic control and procedures. These had to be signed by both airports and presented to the DCA for approval. When the Lanna Ban Thi Airport asked for a license it had to provide a signed agreement with an ultralight field eight km away, but now the DCA says that an airport 270 metres away does not require an agreement.

The DCA’s own regulations based on International Civil Aviation Organization guidelines says that no airport can be located within five nautical miles of another airport.

Also, the license for the new airport appears to have been issued prematurely. Normally, a new airport must be completed and the DCA is required to come and inspect the airport for compliance with all the regulations before the new license can be issued. In this case the license was issued several months before the airport was finished.

In previous times the DCA of Thailand had a good record, being one of the few government departments in Thailand that was straight and had a good reputation with both the local and international aviation communities as being helpful and supportive of general aviation safety.


Mae Hong Son governor announces pursuit of drug dealers

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Phase IV in a drug suppression campaign has been announced by Mae Hong Son Governor Direk Konkleep, who said that police, soldiers and officials are in active and coordinated pursuit of drug dealers.

The campaign includes the checking of ID cards to check their veracity, and whether there are links to drug gangs. If anyone is found who has been supporting the drug dealers, his or her Thai nationality will be revoked, said Direk. There will also be investigations by revenue officers into those who appear to have unusual wealth, and whom the authorities suspect of having links to drug gangs.

There are many routes linking Mae Hong Son with the border but only 36 routes are legal, therefore the special task force of 7th Infantry Regiment, border patrol police and rangers will set up their forces along the border to prevent smuggling.

Special support is being given to 44 villages spread through Pai, Pang Mapha, Khun Yuam, Mae La Noi, Mae Sariang and Sop Moei, for the apprehension of suspected drug traffickers.


Man shot dead in quarrel over parking lot

Nopniwat Krailerg and Preeyanoot Jittawong

The owner of a Chiang Mai restaurant is being held over the killing of a man who owned a neighboring business.

Forensic police officer investigate the crime scene.

Officers called out to the scene of the crime, a car park behind the Rad-na Pijit restaurant on Changklan Road in Muang Chiang Mai, on October 9 found the body of Nakornpan Moongwiriya, the 26-year-old owner of Auto Mix Shop, an outlet for installing and fixing car stereos and accessories. Nakornpan had been shot once through the forehead with a .38 revolver.

Prasert Petpoomprasert, 60, the owner of Rad-na Pijit, is being held over the murder. The two businessmen leased the parking lot behind their businesses for the use of their customers, and they frequently argued about sharing it.

Two months before the murder took place, Nakornpan had attacked Prasert with a knife. Prasert sustained facial injuries and needed seven stitches. On October 3, Nakornpan and Warut (supposed name), his 16 year old brother, conspired to assault Prasert again. Prasert and Nakornpan already had seven cases against their names filed with the police station.

During the final argument, Prasert took his .38 pistol and walked out of his restaurant. He pointed the gun at Warut’s forehead. Nakornpan was taunting him so he followed Nakornpan to the car park and killed him with one bullet.

Prasert then waited for the police to arrive, and then surrendered.


Four villages in Mae Maw are to be relocated

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Four villages in Mae Maw district that have been affected by construction of the Mae Maw power plant are to be relocated at a cost of 660 million baht.

A question mark, however, still hangs over the heads of 72 villagers being prosecuted for trespassing on conserved forest area.

The four villages are Baan Huay Moo 1, Baan Huay King Moo 6 at Tambon Mae Maw, Baan Huay Fai Moo 1 and Baan Huay Fai Lai Thung Moo 8 at Tambon Baan Dong.

The relocation of these four villages was approved by the cabinet in November 2004 and the government has prepared 1,200 rai of land for the villagers including constructing free housing.

A meeting has now been held in Lampang, chaired by governor Amornthad Niratisayakul and attended by almost 100 villagers, in order to sort out the final problems.

Naruedon Suchartpong, a committee member leading the process, said that the National Housing Authority had predicted the move will cost 660 million baht, and this amount was presented to the cabinet. The budget has been authorized including all the processes concerned for the relocation.

Regarding the 72 villagers being prosecuted for trespass, he thought that the government should offer land rights documents to all villagers before they relocated to the new area.

Maliwan Mankhonwirote, a member of the committee, added that all villagers were glad after learning that this conference was to be held as they wanted to hear directly from the governor about progress on the final resolution.


Bag snatcher threatens to jump from building

Nopniwat Krailerg and Preeyanoot Jittawong

A thief who snatched a woman’s bag and escaped from a security guard threatened to leap from the roof of a building.

Policemen on a cherry picker persuade the thief not to jump from the roof.

The event happened on October 9 at Waroros Market. The man had been quickly caught and handcuffed but while waiting for police to arrive he got away and climbed to the roof of the five-story Tak Seng Hong building.

He stood on the edge of the roof and declared that if anyone came near him he would jump. Security called Muang Chiang Mai Police Station and officers and a rescue team and ambulance arrived. Traffic backed up causing a huge jam, as crowds smelling the drama stopped to watch.

Chiang Mai municipality brought in a cherry picker to allow police to speak to the man, and officers learned he was Somchai Aeto aged 20. It took almost two hours to persuade him not to jump from the building by offering him to talk with his relatives through a cell phone. Then he surrendered and walked down the stairs whereupon police invited him to Muang Chiang Mai Police Station where he was charged with theft.


Five North Korean aliens found in Chiang Saen

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Five North Koreans who crossed illegally into Thailand from China have been found in Chiang Saen.

They were discovered by members of the 111th boat patrol force that was checking the Thai-Laotian border. The officers were acting on intelligence that aliens were being smuggled into the country around the Golden Triangle Port area, and they found the five North Koreans hiding and hungry behind a grove at Baan Huay Kiang, Tambon Wiang, about three km from the port.

The immigrants included a husband and wife couple, Kim Hok Done, 66 and Park Chun Bok, 61, and Sae Kim Yo, 67, Tee Sun Hee, 51, and Kim Sun Hok, 58.

They had traveled out from North Korea and worked near the Chinese border before crossing into Thailand at the suggestion of an agent. They came along with a goods ship from the Chinese border, crossing a river and then into Laos before hiring a long tail boat to take them to Chiang Saen. They hoped to be deported to South Korea.

The 111th boat patrol force has been advised that this is not an isolated occurrence, as there are many North Koreans wishing to enter Thailand, and that they are just waiting for an opportunity to cross at the Chiang Saen border.


Officials and police form plan for Drug War 4

Saksit Meesubkwang

A major conference was held in Chiang Mai City Hall to review the results of the 3rd round of the drugs elimination program and to plan for the 4th round.

The October 5 gathering under Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Kwanchai Wongnitikorn included administrative officials, drug suppression officers, police, border patrol police and education institute officers.

The deputy governor said that the 4th drug suppression period and area should be determined clearly, following Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra’s proclamation on October 1 that the results should be concluded within three months.

City areas, residences and educational institutes including the target groups of young people and nightlife venues will be monitored closely.

Outside the city, district chiefs, village headmen and local administrative organizations will be assigned to find methods to build up strong communities, such as holding sports competitions and exercise activities. Soldiers and border patrol police will continue to pay attention to border areas to suppress drug transference from neighboring countries.

Pithaya Jinawat, director of ONCB Northern Region, said that the ONCB had worked on a continuous basis with both the government and private sectors, especially NGOs that are involved in drug elimination.

In the 4th drug elimination period the ONCB will work more tightly to keep an eye on drugs being smuggled from neighboring countries through Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son and to pursue drug dealers who had fled abroad.

The director added that society nowadays had degenerated. Youngsters are more interested in enjoying nightlife and they are at risk from becoming involved in drugs. Even so, many government officials did not pay sufficient attention to the drug problem. “If superiors do not concentrate on drug suppression, inferiors may be discouraged consequentially,” he said.


Chiang Saen customs seize 30,000 ml of bird flu vaccine

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

Chiang Saen customs post on October 6 seized 30,000 ml of bird flu vaccine being smuggled into the country via an incoming cargo vessel. Customs officials at Chiang Saen have repeatedly intercepted illegal shipments of the vaccine that have been transported from China.

During June 23-25 the authorities seized 889 bottles of vaccine, and a further 238 bottles were discovered on July 25. The total amount in the 1,127 bottles was 281,750 ml. Those vaccines were destroyed on September 19.

A new kind of bird flu vaccine, contained in 140 bottles of 250 ml capacity was stowed on board the “Long Tai Ying” Chinese cargo ship was discovered on September 26, and a further 120 bottles were in the latest illegal consignment.

It is assumed that the smuggling is being backed by some large-scale chicken farmers. The detected vaccine will be examined and destroyed, and the customs department has stated it will continue stringent monitoring of vessels for any further attempted deliveries.


Burglar with 40 break-ins to his record apprehended

Nopniwat Krailerg

A compulsive burglar who admitted to almost 40 break-ins has been arrested by Muang Chiang Mai police.

Kriangkrai Kanika, 23, was arrested at his rented house where almost a hundred stolen items were discovered, ranging from small Buddha images to cameras, cell phones and gold ornaments. He said that he sold the items he stole and spent all the money on amusement places and gambling on football match results.

Police said that Kriangkrai did have a permanent occupation but took advantage of the night to rob households at Mae Hia and Padad in Muang Chiang Mai. Anyone who is missing possessions can check at the police station, said the police, and those who bought goods knowing them to be stolen will face prosecution.


1 million baht collection of small Buddha images stolen from Lamphun temple

Nopniwat Krailerg

A valuable collection of small Buddha images, many of them several hundred years old, has been stolen from Payang Temple in Muang, Lamphun.

Abbot Phra Kroo Ba Inthorn Panyo Wattano said that the collection of around 20 images and a bronze Buddha figure 9 inches high was valued at almost one million baht. The abbot assigned his disciples to inform police on October 5.

Upon investigating, police learnt that the images had been kept in the Phra Tham building for a long time but when the abbot was carrying out his usual morning checks had found the place disturbed and the images missing.

A man aged about 40 has been reported as selling small Buddha images in the streets of Lamphun and police are now anxious to trace this man, who they believe could assist them in their investigations.


Gambling den raid nets 32 people

Saksit Meesubkwang

A police raid on a gambling den in the center of Chiang Mai netted 32 gamblers along with 84,000 baht in chips and 1,700 baht in cash.

The October 6 bust on the Tambon Thasala premises was led by Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, and included over 50 officers.

Of the 32 people arrested, 24 were women. The owner of the illegal casino has been named as Panlapa Akasriworn, 39, a resident of Soi Srisanan at Tambon Koksamrong in Lopburi.

Some of the gamblers told police that at first the casino had been just a small group of people but that others quickly joined and it grew in size until the police came to hear about it, and spoiled the party.


Suicide judgment given over three men found hanged in cell

Saksit Meesubkwang

Three men found hanging in a cell at Lamphun Police Station committed suicide, according to a forensic report. This information was given by Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5, in cooperation with forensic police, the Lamphun Police Provincial Police commander and a forensic specialist from Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai.

Pol. Lt. Gen. Panupong Singhara na Ayuthaya, commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 (right) and other police officers at a press conference explaining how three drug dealers hanged themselves, using their shoelaces.

The three men had been found hanging by shoelaces strung over a balustrade in a cell at Lamphun Police Station on October 3.

The commissioner concluded that the deaths were not as the result of a criminal conspiracy, as had been rumored, but were suicide. There was no evidence of any poison or chloroform that would have been needed to subdue the men if force had been used.

The three men were Phalekwa or Pao Chophattakam, 24, and Phajansuk Onjong, 19, both resident at Tambon Nakian, Omkoi, Chiang Mai, and Boochu Sijipat, 23, living at Tambon Pasak in Muang, Lamphun.

Phalekwa had on an earlier occasion attempted suicide when he was arrested by Phuping police for drug taking, and spent a year in prison. He had just been released.

Pithaya Jinawat, director of ONCB Northern Region, revealed that he had sent officers to check if the three men were involved with Wei Hseuh-kang, as had earlier been reported, but it appeared they were just drug dealers.


200 policemen search for drug dealer after shoot-out

Saksit Meesubkwang

A drug dealer injured in a shoot-out evaded capture even though 200 police officers turned out to search for him.

The shoot-out happened on October 10, when officers at Phuping Police Station in Muang, Chiang Mai, rushed to the scene of a shooting on Suthep Road.

They found a blue Mitsubishi pickup with Nakhon Sawan license plates, its windshield shattered and rear tires burst. Inside the pickup were a pregnant woman and 200 speed pills. The woman was identified as Supansa Gakhao, 20, a resident of Tambon Mae Na in Chiang Dao.

The vehicle belonged to Manop Kakaneuk, 37, living at Tambon Takraw in Paisalee, Nakhon Sawan. It was Manop who police had shot at and were pursuing, and although he had been hit he had managed to escape into a grove at a nearby village.

Manop had earlier walked into a sting operation that police had organized, with their undercover officers acting to purchase ya ba from him. An appointment to take delivery of the drugs was made at a place near the Ton Peep restaurant at Tambon Suthep.

Instead of going alone, Manop took his girlfriend Supansa, who was eight months pregnant. After discovering it was a police trap Manop had driven away on the Huay Kaew Road. The officers followed him as far as a college near the Chiang Mai Hills Hotel, where Manop shot at the police who shot back.

Manop was hit but managed to flee. Two hundred police officers from four police stations surrounded the village but they did not succeed in finding him.

The following day 50 police officers searched the area and found Manop lying in a pool of blood. He was sent to Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital for treatment.


Police roadblock nets ya ba gang

Chiangmai Mail Reporters

A police checkpoint at Baan Mae Na, in Chiang Saen, Chiang Rai, stopped a car that was found to be carrying a gang of ya ba dealers.

The roadblock was set up on October 5 by the 31st Ranger Pha Muang Task Force in cooperation with Chiang Saen Police Station. Officers searched the car with a Nakhon Sawan license plate and discovered 3,953 ya ba pills along with 29,800 baht in cash and five dealers.

The two men and three women in the car were arrested. The accused are Amnuay Jaksuta, 45, and Pinyalang Damkham, 26, both from Kamphaengphet; Damrongchai Bualuang, 31, living in Nakhon Sawan; Jenjira Jaksuta, 28, an Udon Thani resident and Boonta Phummala, 52, living in Chainad.


Angry woman sets fire to her hotel room

Saksit Meesubkwang

A distraught woman set fire to her hotel room and caused panic amongst the other guests when smoke began drifting under the door.

Officers from Muang Chiang Rai Police Station rushed to the Wang Kham Hotel on Pemawipat Road where in a room on the fourth floor they found Ms Sumalee Muangkiew, 29, crying amongst smoldering belongings and furnishings. She seemed to be intoxicated or on drugs and was behaving irrationally.

Some time later, Steve John Merial, 42, a British national working as an engineer at an industrial plant in Chonburi, arrived at the scene and informed police that Sumalee was his girlfriend. He said he had rented the room two days previously while visiting Chiang Rai.

Merial told police that Sumalee was angry at something but he did not know what it was. She was throwing her belongings around, so he left. The next thing he heard was that she had set the room alight. He agreed to pay for all the damage, being 60,000 baht in total.

Police have not let the case lie, however, and are checking Sumalee for drug use. Burnt foil and heroin powder have been found in the room.


Dealers take advantage of the flood to transfer drugs to Samutprakan

Gang uncovered and 150,000 ya ba pills found

Saksit Meesubkwang

Five Chiang Rai citizens, Sa-ad Sripratum, Janya Tonsriwiang, Emui Naijai, Chai Chumyen and Nueng Apiwan, plus their 150,000 ya ba pills, two vehicles, four cell phones and 160,000 baht cash were presented at a press conference on September 30, at office of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5. Information in the case was given by Pol. Maj. Gen. Suwat Kruengkrai, deputy commissioner of the Provincial Police Bureau Region 5 and Pol. Col. Sarawut Jantharaprasert, the investigation superintendent.

Police put 150,000 ya ba pills and five offenders on display at a press conference.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Suwat said that this gang had been pursued for long time and the police would continue to investigate to round up the head of the gang.

At the conference, Chai Chumyen said that he, Nueng and Janya, who was his wife, were innocent because they were persuaded by Emui to visit Chiang Mai and they all rested in a hotel but later the police arrived and they were arrested. They claimed to be confused by the turn of events because they knew nothing about drug dealing and all they would like was to receive justice.

Emui backed up their claims of innocence, saying that these three persons were not involved. She just transferred drugs to Sa-ad with 160,000 baht as a wage and Sa-ad would continue the transfer to Samutprakan.