Four nabbed in B5m kidnap ransom

CHIANG MAI - Police have arrested four debt collectors for kidnapping a couple and demanding a ransom of five million baht to cover an initial repayment of a total of 30 million baht which they alleged the husband owed to their employer.

The four were arrested in a sting operation at a department store on Tuesday and were taken to a police press conference on Wednesday.  

Police identified them as Theeranai Mahaprom, 53, Thai Kawila, 62, Somnuak Boonchuying, 57, and Pongpan Jamdon, 42. They also seized two pickup trucks and a 9mm pistol with 12 bullets used in the kidnap for ransom, said Daily News, quoting Provincial Police Region 5 deputy commander Damrongsak Kittiprapas.

The group and two other men, identified only as Lek and Boy who are still at large, forced Thanasit Treepollaset, 44, and his wife Waranya Rachanon, 40, into a pickup when they were at a parking lot at Doi Saket district hospital on July 10. 

They blindfolded the couple and took them to a “marn rood” (curtained) hotel in San Sai district where they were assaulted and held until July 15. 

The men took a five-baht-weight gold necklace and two two-baht-weight gold bracelets along with an iPhone from Mr Thanasit and Ms Waranya. 

They also demanded a five million baht ransom from their family members, who later alerted police about the pair’s fate. The arrest came after the couple’s relatives were able to convince the kidnappers to collect the money at a shopping mall on Tuesday night. But Mr Boy, an alleged gang leader and mastermind of the kidnapping, and Lek managed to escape.

The suspects accused Mr Thanasit of being a former major drug dealer in Chiang Mai and that he owed Mr Boy 30 million baht in “drug money” before he was sentenced to two years in prison on drug offences. Mr Boy asked the others to help him collect the debt from Mr Thanasit, who was recently released from jail, and promised to give them half of whatever amount of money was repaid by Mr Thanasit. 

Mr Thanasit refused to give any details relating to the kidnapping and the allegations laid against him, Pol Maj Gen Damrongsak said.  

An initial investigation found Mr Boy is a caretaker of a big casino in Bangkok, he said, adding investigators are tracking down the escaped suspects and undertaking further investigations.

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