Police on Thursday arrested two men for allegedly impersonating narcotics officers before torturing and killing a Lisu hill-tribe man in Chiang Mai last month.
The victim, Alae Siwua, 36, reportedly owed Bt10 million in illicit drug payments to a Wa tribal drug-trafficking ring, Provincial Police Region 5 acting chief Pol Maj-General Montri Sambunyanon told the press. The suspects, Suthat Chanthawong, 56, and Chalong Somphetch 53, were allegedly hired by the ring for Bt500,000 to abduct Alae and force the payment out of him. When he refused, they killed him, said Montri.
The victim was abducted at gunpoint from his peanut plantation in Tambon Muan Na in Chiang Dao district on September 26 afternoon by the men who claimed to be plainclothes officers arresting him on a warrant.
The handcuffed victim was taken to a nearby mountain forest where he was allegedly tortured by Chalong and accomplice Pongchai Phetchnoi, 37.
Suthat, Chalong and Pongchai had remained friends from when they served time at Khlong Prem Prison for drug-related convictions.
Suthat allegedly picked up the contract on Alae’s abduction from the Wa gang and served as a getaway truck driver for this crime.
Chalong and Pongchai allegedly committed the abduction and torture, while an unnamed male representative of the Wa gang also allegedly observed and aided in the crime, a police investigation learned this week.
This led to the arrest warrants for the three over conspiracy to abduct, illegal detention, murder, having a gun in their possession and robbery.
Suthat and Chalong were arrested separately on Thursday morning in Chiang Mai.
As the victim’s abduction was carried out under the pretence of Office of the Narcotics Control Board (ONCB) officers and previous news reports had published such information, Montri accused the journalists involved of having damaged the agency’s reputation. Criminals often posed as officers when committing crimes, he said, urging the public to use their discretion when reading the news.