Long arm of law finds ‘Boss Paeng’ in Indonesia

THURSDAY, MAY 30, 2024

Epic manhunt for fugitive convict ends successfully as Thai authorities coordinate his repatriation

The notorious crime boss who escaped from a hospital in Nakhon Si Thammarat last year has finally been captured in Indonesia, Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin said in a social media post. 

In a post on X (formerly Twitter) at about 1pm on Thursday, Srettha said the justice minister told him that “Paeng Na Node” had been arrested. 

He said the Royal Thai Police, Justice Ministry and Foreign Ministry were coordinating with Indonesian authorities for the fugitive’s repatriation. 

The premier was referring to Chavalit “Boss Paeng” Thongduang who hails from Phattalung’s Na Node district.

Chavalit escaped from detention on October 22 last year after faking an illness and being admitted to Nakhon Si Thammarat Hospital. He had been sentenced to 20 years and three months in prison for trying to free a drug suspect from police custody. 

The Phattalung Court sentenced him in absentia in December last year to life imprisonment for his role in the attempted murder of a court official in 2019.

Despite being notorious for serious crimes in the province, Chavalit has gained a sort of Robinhood-like status on social media for embarrassing police with his escape and exposing alleged wrongdoing by a provincial public prosecutor. 

Long arm of law finds ‘Boss Paeng’ in Indonesia

After making his way out of the hospital, Chavalit was reportedly helped by villagers to hide in the mountains straddling Patthalung and Trang. He played hide-and-seek with the police force thanks to help from locals until the police called off the search. It was widely believed that he had escaped across the border. 

Sources said that Justice Minister Thawee Sodsong and PM’s adviser General Niphat Thonglek played a key role in Chavalit’s arrest. Ministry sources said both Thawee and Niphat visited Indonesia last week on their way back from Portugal and Germany. 

Niphat reportedly built close ties with Indonesian security agencies while he was permanent secretary for the Defence Ministry. Hence, it is believed he played a big part in the convict’s arrest.