BANGKOK – Police raided an unlicensed gay bar in northern Bangkok over the weekend and found dozens of party-goers who tested positive for drug use, including a well-known internet celebrity.
Hijack bar, located in Lat Yao district, posed as a sauna but was illegally operating as an entertainment venue without a license, said Pol.Col. Saktawee Sribantao, a police officer at Phaholyothin Police Station.
The police raid at the venue on Saturday night followed complaints from local residents, Pol.Col. Saktawee said.
Itthipol Traiduangrat, the owner of the bar, attempted to prevent police officers from entering the venue and claimed to be a newspaper reporter who knew influential people. He also reportedly threatened to press charges against the police for criminal damages during their raid.
However, police detained Itthipol and proceeded to storm the venue and detain more than 80 party-goers, Pol.Col. Saktawee said. One of the patrons was Sitthipong "Pom" Jiracharoenwong, 24, a well-known celebrity among Thailand's online gay community, who was at the party with his 18-year-old boyfriend.
Officers soon uncovered narcotics in the venue and forced all of the party-goers to undergo drug tests, but Sitthipong refused and scolded police officers for detaining him. Officers then separated Sitthipong from the group and successfully convinced him to undergo the drug test. He tested positive for narcotics, as did 32 other patrons.
Sitthipong and other drug-users were charged with drug abuse and scheduled for further medical examination to determine the type of narcotics they consumed, while Itthipol, the bar owner, was charged with operating an entertainment venue without permit.
Pol.Col. Saktawee said the bar specifically catered to gay men. It also offered free condoms and private spaces for party-goers to engage in sexual activities, he said.
"The bar charges 1,000 baht as entry fee, but college students under 23 years old only pay 70 baht for entry," Pol.Col. Saktawee said, adding that on certain nights of the week all of the party-goers are required by bar rules to wear underpants only.