TUESDAY, February 27, 2024

Cops nab final suspect in snake-show arson linked to triads

Cops nab final suspect in snake-show arson linked to triads

Police have caught the final suspect in the arson of a Phuket snake show allegedly ordered by a Chinese criminal network operating in Thailand.

Surachai Thongkhlip, 42, was nabbed in the parking lot of a shopping mall in Bangkok’s Dusit district on Wednesday. A Phuket court issued a warrant for his arrest in October on suspicion of attempted murder and arson.

On the night of April 23, 2022, three men snuck into a snake-show tourist attraction in Phuket’s Muang district and set fire to the building. They also tied up a security guard and beat him severely, leading to injuries that left him permanently disabled.

Police said the first two suspects arrested confessed to receiving orders from Chaiyanat “Tuhao” Kornchayanant to burn down the place as it belonged to his business rival. Chaiyanat is currently being investigated on suspicion of running a triad crime network in Thailand.

Phuket police summoned Chaiyanat and his wife for questioning but have not charged the couple in connection with the arson and beating.

Surachai has denied charges stemming from the incident.

Cops nab final suspect in snake-show arson linked to triads

The investigation of Chaiyanat and his alleged criminal network began in November after former massage parlour tycoon and politician Chuwit Kamolvisit passed information on triad operations in Thailand to police.

Chaiyanat, a Chinese businessman who gained Thai citizenship by marrying a senior Thai police officer, surrendered to an arrest warrant on November 23 but denies all charges against him. His wife is among dozens of suspects who have been arrested or questioned by police.

Authorities have so far confiscated assets worth 5.3 billion baht from Chaiyanat and his alleged accomplices.

The police investigative report was delivered to the attorney-general on January 13. That led to charges including drug trafficking, transnational crime and money laundering being pressed against Chaiyanat and 40 other individuals.

The Justice Ministry has also targeted another 3 billion in assets owned by Chaiyanat and his alleged crime network.

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