Criminal cases against an ex-gaming operator in Thailand are moving forward in connection with last July’s murder of a bicycle taxi rider and other crimes, according to published reports.
The alleged contract killing was believed to be in retaliation for the taxi operator informing police about an illegal gambling den, police sources revealed.
An indictment against the suspected gaming boss, Somchai Jutikitdecha, 56, also known as “Longjoo Somchai,” for the murder was recommended recently by Thailand’s Crime Suppression Division (CSD).
Last July 28, Prathum Sa-adnak, a 47-year-old taxi operator, was fatally shot near a school in Pattaya. That is a city on the east coast of the Gulf of Thailand.
Two men were already arrested for allegedly murdering Prathum. They were identified as Manas Imnam, 39, and Niphon Panthong, 47, the Bangkok Post reported.
Police claim Jutikitdecha planned the murder because Prathum told authorities details that led police to raid and shutter Jutikitdecha’s gambling den in February 2020, the Post said. Prathum also photographed a site in Pattaya that was being used for illegal gambling, the Post adds.
Gambling King of the East
Jutikitdecha has a reputation in illegal gambling circles in the East Asian nation. He has been named in local media as the “the Gambling King of the East.”
Jutikitdecha has also allegedly organized multiple illegal gambling operations with suspected violations of public assembly laws and rules against money laundering, the Post adds.
Jutikitdecha’s alleged gaming sites were linked to the spread of COVID-19, the Post said.
When police recently went to apprehend Jutikitdecha at his home in the Tha Muang district, Jutikitdecha’s son, Thana, 26, was also arrested. He is also suspected for illegal gambling and money laundering, the Post reported.
Earlier Gambling Arrests
Recently, in an unrelated incident Thai police raided an online gambling site in Bangkok, the Chiang Rai Times, a local news organization, reported.
Some 19 people were arrested by police in connection with the operation, the Times said. It was housed in a condominium.
The illegal operation was grossing about US$3 million a month, the report adds. During the search, police seized eight computers, 30 computer monitors, 27 cellphones, seven bank account books, and 17 ATM cards.
In another incident, on May 5 12 people were apprehended for their role in alleged gambling in a restaurant, the Times reported. Gambling equipment and US$112 were seized during the raid.
Previously, multiple assets were seized by two operators of alleged gambling dens, the Times said. The assets included bank accounts and houses. The gambling operations were blamed by authorities for spreading COVID-19, the Times said.
In still another incident, last month two Thai police officers were shot and wounded as they apprehended a suspected illegal gambling operator at a luxury residence near Pattaya, the Post reported.
The resident, identified as Jang Yang, 35, fled to the top floor of the house when police came to search the residence. He allegedly fired at police and released tear gas.
Capt. Phanthep Sribunnag, chief of the Pattaya police station’s special operations team, was shot in the shoulder, chest, and stomach. Senior Sgt. Maj Kreetha Thipnate of the Pattaya police station was shot in the right leg.
Jang was charged with attempted murder, resisting arrest with a deadly weapon, and illegal possession of a firearm, the Post said.
Police seized two firearms from the house, one of which was a modified 9mm, as well as bullet-proof vests. Police also seized a Porsche, a Rolls-Royce, and a Mercedes Benz, as well as documents and computers.
Eight other people, including five Chinese nationals, a gardener, and two maids, were also detained by police following the raid.
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