Police are searching for two men who were caught on camera shooting an Indian gangster to death in the parking lot of a hotel in downtown Muang district of this island province.
Police originally said the dead man was a Canadian — and earlier reports in local media including the Bangkok Post carried this assertion — but he was in fact an Indian national with a long criminal history in Canada, the Vancouver Sun reported.
Jimi “Slice” Sandhu, 32, was deported from Canada for “serious criminality” six years ago, according to the newspaper, which said “several sources” had verified his identity.
When his body was found on Saturday morning, Sandhu was carrying two different pieces of identification: a passport bearing the name of a Canadian of Indian descent, and a driver’s licence bearing the name of another Canadian of Indian descent.
Local police released one of the names as that of the dead man, and it was published in several local media outlets.
The shooting occurred at the Beachfront Hotel Phuket, which also offers villas for sale on the property near Rawai beach. Sandhu owned a villa there, according to the Sun, whose reporters spoke with a staff member of the complex.
Officers were called to the hotel at 6.30am on Saturday after an employee reported a body in the parking lot of the villa zone, said Pol Lt Phalakorn Nuansuthi, deputy investigation chief at the Chalong police station.
The man was found lying face-down in a pool of blood behind a red MG hatchback with Phuket licence plates.
Wearing a white T-shirt and cream shorts, he had sustained about 10 gunshot wounds on his body.
Police believe the man had died at least 6 hours before his body was discovered.
Nineteen spent cartridges from a .38 were found scattered around the area. Some banknotes and some dried marijuana were found inside the car.
The body was sent to Vachira Phuket Hospital for a post-mortem examination.
When police examined security video from the hotel, they saw the victim driving the car to park in the villa zone of the 180-room hotel.
As he was about to get out of the car, two men wearing woolen balaclavas to cover their faces jumped out at him.
They fired several shots at close range and when the victim fell down, they shot him again.
Pol Maj Gen Sermphan Sirikhong, chief of Phuket police, said the victim had arrived in the province on Jan 27 and was staying at the villa wing of the hotel.
According to the Sun, Sandhu had been a member of the United Nations, a criminal gang active in the Pacific coast province of British Columbia.
Rivals in the Brothers Keepers gang “were posting insults and taunts on social media when the news broke” of Sandhu’s death, the newspaper said.
Sandhu was born in India and moved to Canada as a seven-year-old and grew up with relatives in Abbotsford, near Vancouver.
After getting caught up in gang life and convicted of serious assaults in 2010 and 2012, he faced deportation, the Sun said.
He was deported in early 2016 and two years later news emerged that he had been arrested in India and charged with operating a large ketamine factory.
After he was released on bail, he disappeared and is believed to have been travelling between Dubai and Southeast Asia ever since, the newspaper said.
At his immigration hearing in 2015, the Sun said, Sandhu acknowledged the risk of gang life:
“I know that path is either go to jail or you die,” he said.