Dozens of police officers stormed a popular nightlife district last night where they harassed tourists and revelers in the name of seeking evidence linking the venue to an online gambling money laundering operation.
It was in the middle of a set by Sven Väth, a major international techno artist, that hundreds of revelers were ordered by police out of the Onyx and V12 nightclubs located on RCA just off Rama IX Road as they conducted a large-scale raid.
A Coconuts reporter saw numerous police vans parked in front of Onyx and an adjoining venue called V12, where Vath was performing. While no other club in the area seemed to be affected by the raid, patrons at the nearby Route 66 club were seen exiting.
The operation was led by Pol. Gen Torsak Sukwimol, who told reporters at the scene that they were attempting to find evidence that would link the club to an online gambling operation called Macau888 and operated by a criminal syndicate known as the Four Brothers.
“We have arrest warrants for 13 people and already arrested one,” Torsak said. “We had already planned to raid the entertainment venue. The people in question are known to hang around and meet in the venue and launder money here. They might be shareholders, we are investigating.”
He did not mention if the club or its management were directly involved.
Among the ranks of officers outside the venue were cyber crime cops, 191 emergency police, immigration police, and narcotics officers.
Tourists were also targeted during the raid. Police asked club patrons over the megaphone to exit Onyx via two lines, one for men, the other women. They asked tourists to provide identification in order to determine whether any had overstayed their visas.
Inside Onyx, a popular nightclub frequented by tourists and locals, club-goers were seen hurriedly exiting the club. Many others ran inside into bathrooms as police began to search the premises. Four drug-sniffing K9 unites were later brought inside. Officers found packets of drugs throughout the venue and inside the toilets during the investigation.
A line was formed outside for tourists who were then searched for drugs and forced to submit to urine tests. Police also found that several patrons did not carry passports.
One cop asked about the raid disputed that explanation, saying the raid was really just a routine search for drugs.
“It’s a usual search according to police procedure,” the officer, who declined to give his name, told Coconuts. “We’re searching for drugs and checking if tourists are overstaying their visas.”
When asked if they were searching all of RCA, a long specially zoned road filled with nightlife venues, the officer said it was possible but declined to comment further.
Other police officers on the scene declined to comment about the alleged gambling operation.
In recent days, the police have been pursuing leads about the Thai nationals behind the so-called Macau888 ring after a celebrity went public about its operations.
While it was a regular night at Onyx, Väth had been set to play a three-hour extended set from 11pm to 2am at V12. At about 1am, organizers and staff from Onyx told him to stop playing, cutting his set short by one hour.
The organizer first said the party would resume once they finished talking to the police, but after about 10 minutes of crowd complaints and an exodus of guests, the event came to a premature end.
The police crackdown on Macau888 is part of a wider enforcement effort against online gambling. On Friday, the cyber police raided four locations in Bangkok and Nonthaburi believed to be places where the site is run and operated by a network of gamblers.
One of the raids included a beverage company in RCA owned by one of the chief suspects, Nopmanat Sangkasab. They seized computers, mobile phones and two guns.
Another raid occurred at a house in Nonthaburi belonging to Natthapong “Zico” Shina, who is suspected of being one of the platform’s financial managers. There, police said they found gambling slips and other evidence as well as details about Macau888’s customers.
Natthapong was later apprehended at a condo in Udon Thani on Saturday. Natthapong told officers he was only a gambler and denied any connection with the group.
Leave A Reply
You must be logged in as a Coconuts User to comment.