PATTAYA — Four people suspected of extorting ransom money from alleged drug users were arrested in the resort town of Pattaya, police said on Sunday night.
The four suspects are suspected of kidnapping and extorting an unknown number of victims for at least a month by posing as security forces, until a tip led officers to raid a hotel Sunday where they freed five hostages, said Lt. Col. Pawatchai Sudsakhon of the Pattaya City Police Station last night.
Pawatchai said the group – three men and one woman – would enter homes of people “involved in narcotics” and identify themselves as soldiers, police and anti-narcotics agents.
“After that, they would take the victims to a safe house and test their urine,” Pawatchai said. “Then they would extort the victims of money in exchange for their freedom. If the victims didn’t have money, they would assault them and detain them.”
Police named the four as Somporn Klangnak, 29; Manop Thongchai, 33; Ratchata Abkornburi, 20; and Karuna Pramloi, 31. They have been charged with extortion. Pawatchai said police are still looking for the suspected ringleader, a man called Sarayuth Jehmad.
The five hostages freed Sunday also face charges.
Police were alerted to the gang when a woman complained to a local army unit that her daughter was being held in a hotel room by the suspects, Pawatchai said. Upon receiving word from the military, police reportedly raided the room and arrested the four suspects. Five hostages were also found at the room.
Pawatchai said witnesses told police the suspects were seen bringing strangers to the hotel room for at least a month.
“If anyone has fallen victim, they can file charge against [the suspects],” Pawatchai said.
The five rescued hostages face drug charges because they tested positive for drugs, he added.
To reach us about this article or another matter, please contact us by e-mail at: [email protected].