WEDNESDAY, April 17, 2024

Crimes and shadows flourish among social media

Crimes and shadows flourish among social media

A series of events in 2023 shook the very world of many Thais, from the discovery of a female serial killer to a 14-year-old boy rampantly shooting down innocent bystanders in Bangkok’s most visited mall.

Poisonous serial killer

In April 2023, Koy Siriporn joined her friend Am, whom she had known for a decade, on a merit-making trip to release fish in Ratchaburi’s Mae Klong River. Unexpectedly, Koy collapsed by the riverbank. Despite the efforts of bystanders to save her life, Am was nowhere to be found. Koy’s money, phone and expensive designer bag was also allegedly missing.

Sararat Rangsiwuthaporn, dubbed ‘Am Cyanide’ by the press was arrested 10 days after ‘Koy’ Siriporn Khanwong’s death.

As the investigation progressed, startling revelations emerged, linking as many as 14 deaths to the same pattern and pointing to one suspect. Cyanide was identified as the likely murder weapon, with financial gain emerging as the apparent motive behind the sinister acts.

Am was allegedly up to her neck in online gambling and found a way to make her payments and fuel that addiction, by borrowing money from her victims, poisoning them with cyanide and making her escape while also looting the victims who trusted her.

Her killing spree is said to have started in 2015, when Montatip Khao-in passed away from acute heart failure after Am picked her up at the airport. Montatip lived abroad with her foreigner husband and was visiting Thailand. After she passed away, Montatip’s mother told officials that Am took over the affairs of Montatip’s assets, claiming that it was under the direction of Montatip’s foreign husband.

Authorities claim to have found evidence that Am Cyanide had poisoned 15 people over eight years in eight provinces and got clear evidence that she was ordering cyanide online.

She is facing a total of over 75 charges and Law enforcement have underscored their intent to pursue the highest penalty, which is the death penalty, for Am Cyanide.

Crimes and shadows flourish among social media

Rampage at the mall

On Tuesday night of October 3, a 14-year-old boy went on a shooting spree within a bustling shopping mall in central Bangkok, and three lives were tragically lost with another four innocents injured.

The alleged gunman surrendered and was arrested in a shop on the third floor after running out of ammunition. He had reportedly tried to flee through a passage from the mall linking to Siam Kempinski Hotel Bangkok. The hotel, however, had closed its entrance on the third floor. The police found an automatic Glock 9mm pistol on him.

The suspect was a student at a tuition school near the shopping mall. He had an avid interest in shooting games and regularly practiced shooting as a hobby. His social media interactions suggest he had a well-thought-out plan for the shooting.

Authorities disclosed that the incident was triggered by pressures the boy had endured from his academic oriented doctoral parents since a very young age. Academic success caused a mental breakdown, which ensued after he ceased taking medication for an existing psychiatric condition.

Incidents of gun violence are increasingly frequent in Thailand. In 2022, an ex-police officer carried out a deadly attack with guns and knives, claiming the lives of 22 children in a nursery.

Two years earlier, a soldier went on a rampage in and around the northeastern province of Nakhon Ratchasima, resulting in the tragic deaths of at least 29 people and injuries to 57 others across four locations.

Crimes and shadows flourish among social media Is the Internet … too free?

Both Am Cyanide and the 14-year-old mall shooter bought their lethal weapons from the Internet before taking the lives of many innocent people.

A quick search of well-known online shopping websites today will surface responses regarding dangerous substances such as cyanide. Terms such as “buying cyanide”, “cheap cyanide for sale” will produce results; a search using the term “buying sodium cyanide” could lead to a website display. However, once clicked on, a messages appear stating “search not found” and “apologies for the inconvenience”.

However, a Thai PBS report from prior to the shocking cyanide case drawing mass attention from the public noted that the chemical could be found being sold online. The news became widespread and concerns gained momentum. Then reports of the 14 deaths led to the discontinuation of the online sale of this type of product.

No license is required in Thailand to buy cyanide in quantities not exceeding 1,000 kilograms or 1 tonne. This loophole allows the general public to purchase and possess it.
As for the pre-teen shooter, he simply bought his gun from an online black market.

Searches with keywords for illegal items on social media platforms such as X (formerly Twitter) and Facebook revealed an array of accounts selling guns and ammunition with sellers guaranteeing that their “goods” would be sent and received in a few days through courier services using basic concealment methods.

Taking advantage of lax law enforcement in Thailand, the shooter was able to buythe weapon through a social media platform.

The day following the shooting incident, Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul unveiled seven immediate measures aimed at enhancing gun control. Proposed policy adjustments, however, overlooked the issue of the online black market, particularly on social media.

On December 20, 2023, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin and Interior Minister Anutin Charnvirakul signed a directive under the provisions of the 1947 Firearms Control Act, suspending the issuing of licenses for firearms until December 19, 2024.

Despite frequent crackdowns, Thailand remains both the land of smiles and also the the land of free internet, where almost anyone is able to buy almost anything deadly with the click of a button.