Street Food Vendors Are Targets of Extortion by Thai Officers

Thai police are not only suspected of taking a 140 million baht bribe from online gambling operators but have recently made a name for themselves as the ones who extorted money from street food vendors who are trying to fight a stagnant economy.

In a recent case, Miss Atikan Phumlek, a 46-year-old fried banana vendor in Moo 13, Bang Mae Nang Sub-district, Bang Yai District, Nonthaburi Province, was asked for money by people who looked like police officers as she hired a Burmese worker. The officers demanded a monthly payment of 3,500 baht from the shop in exchange for a sticker with a picture of a lion and a signature stating that it was for the month of June.

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A fried banana vendor

The case went viral when the seller’s elder brother posted the video evidence on social media, while the seller reported the case to the police.

Subsequently, on June 21, two officers of the Nonthaburi Provincial Police, namely Pol. Cpl. Jirawat Muangheet and Pol. Sgt. Sungsun Sriket, came to surrender, claiming that they had conducted a drug investigation based on the reports received.


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A sticker with a picture of a lion and a signature stating that it was for the month of June.

The two police officers were charged under Article 148 for abusing their authority and forcing or inciting persons to obtain property or other benefits for themselves or others. The offense is punishable by imprisonment for 5-20 years or life, a fine of 100,000 baht or the death penalty.

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Two police officers came to surrender.

They were also charged under Article 157 for performing or failing to perform official acts without authority. This offense is punishable by imprisonment for 1-10 years, a fine of 20,000-100,000 baht, or both imprisonment and a fine.

In another case, a Vietnamese man selling ground squid from a motorbike in Nonthaburi province told the Khaosod reporter that he and his girlfriend have been working in Thailand for a year, sending money to his mother and two children in Vietnam. He had to pay money to several Thai officials from different agencies for stickers with ducks and chickens as proof that he had paid the officials for protection and professional support without being arrested.

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A Vietnamese man selling ground squid showed the stickers from Thai officers.

The Vietnamese vendor said that he has been paying vignette fees for about 7-8 months. He has a total of 5 vignettes and has to pay about 8 to 9 different agencies every month, totalling nearly 6,000 baht per month. While his daily income after expenses is about 1,000 baht, he only makes a profit of 300 baht, which is barely enough for food and water.

“Every day feels like a compulsion because if I do not pay, they will arrest me and the fines will be substantial. So I have to accept and pay, otherwise I cannot survive,” he said.

The reporter noted that when they observed vendors selling peanuts, they have two more stickers with pictures of a tiger and a black panther on the back of their mobile phones.