Bandidos members arrested for Samui land deals
Three members of the Bandidos, an international motorcycle gang, were arrested yesterday on charges relating to illegal land sales on Koh Samui, police said.
A team of 100 officers raided 10 locations on the resort island early in the morning, arresting two alleged gang members and a Thai official suspected of being an accomplice in the illegal land sales. A third foreign national sought by police later turned himself in.
British nationals Peter Watkin Jones, 40, and Crispin John Granville Paton-Smith, 43, and Thai surveyor Pramual Somwong were arrested during the raid. Pramual allegedly provided the foreign suspects with forged land documents.
Danish national Kim Lindegaard Nielsen, 36, was in Pattaya during the raid but later turned himself in. His Caribbean-style house on Samui is advertised for sale at Bt40 million.
Police are still looking for two Thai suspects, Samroeng Buanak and Prateep Muangkaew, and one Dane, Peter Buch Rosenberg, 35, who is believed to be travelling to Denmark.
The suspects were charged with extortion, money laundering and six counts of illegal sale of public land, said Colonel Taweesak Sodsong, the deputy chief of the Department of Special Investigations (DSI).
The illegal land-sale charges relate to development projects worth from Bt1 billion to Bt6 billion each, Taweesak said. Initial investigations found the projects had encroached on public land, he said.
The DSI will not seize the suspects' money and property until the Anti-Money Laundering Organisation (Amlo) conducts a thorough investigation, Taweesak said.
Foreign nationals who invest honestly in Thailand should remain confident that they will not be affected, he said.
Cases involving sites near mountains would be forwarded to the Special Case Investigation Department and other cases will be forwarded to National Counter Corruption Commission as the surveyor allegedly involved in the illegal sales is in the civil service.
DSI spokesman Colonel Piyawat Kingket said the Bandidos gang brought more than Bt3 billion into Thailand and laundered it in Koh Samui through several tourist businesses.
DSI chief General Sombat Amornviwat said his department had received a complaint from British national Neil that the gang had threatened to kill him until he turned over his business last December.
During a six-month investigation, police found that the foreign suspects were members of the Bandidos gang and had a network that extended to Bangkok, Pattaya and Phuket. They trafficked drugs in Thailand and laundered money here, Sombat said. They also engaged in illegal land deals in which they bribed land officials and used forged Sor Khor 1 documents to claim ownership of land they later sold to other foreign nationals.
The officers from the DSI, Amlo Crime Suppression Division and Department of Investigation took part in the raid.