The heads of five major Chinese triads operating in Thailand have been declared persona non grata, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn said on Tuesday.
Two of them have been arrested, while the other three have fled the country on private jets.
Pol Gen Surachate said police chief Damrongsak Kittiprapas has placed a permanent ban on them returning to the kingdom. The blacklist effectively made them persona non grata.
Pol Gen Damrongsak said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha had issued a stern directive to crackdown on entertainment establishments which operate illegally, and on mafia figures and illegal firearms, regardless of the nationality of the offenders.
The police have conducted wide-sweeping stings which led to the arrest of many suspects, including the alleged triad leaders, for operating illegal entertainment venues and for alleged involvement in illicit drug networks.
Po Gen Surachate said the triads operate in five groups, one being Club One in Pattaya. The Chinese club owner was implicated in drugs and money laundering and has been arrested.
Police investigators were digging into financial transactions to learn more details.
A popular nightspot, Club One Pattaya was raided in the early hours of Oct 22. Some drugs were found. About 200 foreign and Thai customers stampeded from the building without an arrest being made.
On Tuesday, Pol Gen Surachate said investigators were working on seizing cash and assets inluding high-end and luxury apartments from the five triad leaders as they track the suspects’ respective money trails.
Police will ask Interpol to issue a Red Notice for the three leaders who had fled initially to neighbouring countries and possibly beyond, the deputy police chief said.
Pol Gen Surachate admitted the police information about the five triad leaders mirrored that divulged recently by Chuvit Kamolvisit, a former massage parlour tycoon and politician.
On Nov 2, Mr Chuvit posted on social media his insights into the five triads
The first was run by a Chinese national who converted to Thai citizenship and claimed to be acquainted with senior police officers, he said.
The second was headed by a Chinese national who goes by the name “Tony”. He allegedly tried to build connections with Thai politicians and land a deal for state procurements during the Covid-19 pandemic. He reportedly owns a pub with a secret entrance reserved for Chinese customers.
The third group is controlled by a Chinese man identified only as “David”, who operates a pub which doubles as a joint for drug abuse. The man has spent many years in Thailand and speaks fluent Thai.
The fourth is headed by Yu Chang Fei, a Chinese national who opened a large pub in Pattaya. He was nabbed by police as he tried to flee the country at a border checkpoint in the Northeast.
The fifth is run by a pub owner by the name of Ming, who broke away from the Yu Chang Fei network and owns a pub in the Ratchadaphisek area of Bangkok, according to Mr Chuvit.
Pol Gen Surachate said investigators were still connecting all the dots as they looked into Thai citizens who aided the gangs. Police expect to shed more light on the triads’ operations in two or three weeks.
He said the national police chief had been in contact with the Chinese ambassador, who pledged full cooperation in suppressing the triads’ operations.