A German man might have thought he’d escaped the reach of Interpol by taking up the life of a humble roadside chicken vendor in northeastern Thailand. And for two years he did, until amused customers made him a viral sensation online.
The arrest of Maximilian Fernsebner, a fugitive wanted for drug trafficking back home since 2017, was announced yesterday by the Immigration Bureau, which explained how the 34-year-old’s chickens finally came home to roost in Nakhon Ratchasima’s Pak Chong district after a long search that included hiding himself underwater two days.
The director of the bureau’s first division told Coconuts Bangkok in an interview yesterday afternoon how the German slipped into the country two years ago and lived undetected.
“When he entered the country in 2017, the Interpol warrant had not been forwarded to us yet,” Col. Chatchawan Tipichai said. “When we finally got it last year, he was already in Thailand, but because he did it illegally, he is not in the system. So we didn’t know he was here.”
It wasn’t until mid-May when people started sharing pictures of Fernsebner selling chicken that he appeared on the bureau’s radar.
“After the pictures blew up, many news publications started calling us for the name of the German. Since we didn’t know who he was either, we sent pictures to the German embassy. That’s when they told us, ‘Hey this guy’s wanted!’” Chatchawan said.
Immigration officers were quickly dispatched to the home of Fernsebner’s wife to detain him, but it was too late. He’d gotten tipped off about their arrival and made a run for it.
“We waited for him for over a month after that. We had police staking out his wife’s house, but he never showed up,” Chatchawan said. It wasn’t until toward the end of June when local residents reported a foreigner who frequented an abandoned plot in Pak Chong district. On June 18, multiple officials were dispatched to stake it out.
Knowing police had him cornered, Fernsebner refused to emerge for two days. On the third day, Chatchawan said police got a call from the German Embassy with a message from Fernsebner’s mother that her son was ready to turn himself in – but would only do so if Thai authorities pulled back and allowed embassy representatives to pick him up.
Both parties agreed and Fernsebner was finally detained June 20. Upon his arrest, the German reportedly told the authorities that he spent two days hiding in a water-filled ditch and had used a plastic pipe to help him breathe the whole time.
He has since been fined THB6,000 (US$196) for illegally entering the country. He is currently being held by police who are preparing to send him back to Germany in the next few days where he is expected to stand trial, Chatchawan said.
He is accused of having sold methamphetamines and ecstasy online.
Fernsebner’s wife, 26-year-old Pawanee “Nan” Sricheai, will not face any charges, Chatchawan said, because she had no knowledge of his crimes back in Germany prior to May.