Manhunt Expands for Fugitive Ex-Police Chief ‘Jo Ferrari’

The hunt for the fugitive sacked police colonel Thitisan Utthanaphon is now underway and immigration police at all Thai border checkpoints are on close watch.

They have been instructed to remain extra-vigilant as the suspect may attempt to flee the country, the chief of the Immigration Bureau Pol Lt Gen Sompong Chingduang revealed late on Wednesday evening.

The 39-year-old man, known among fellow officers as ‘Jo Ferrari’, has been accused of torturing and killing a drug suspect in Nakhon Sawan.

Police searched his luxury THB 60 million home in Bangkok’s Klong Sam Wa district on Wednesday.

The police team led by Pol Maj Gen Noppasilp Phulsawat, chief of Provincial Police Region 7, found 29 luxury cars parked in the complex with a value of more than THB 100 million.

However, the former Muang police chief was nowhere to be seen.

Agents also found two Myanmar women, allegedly housekeepers, and a security guard at the luxurious home in the Panya Intra housing estate in the Bang Chan area.

On Tuesday, Thitisan was removed from office as Muang police chief after a controversial video went viral on social media.

The clip showed a man being suffocated with a plastic bag over his head to death.

The Nakhon Sawan provincial court issued arrest warrants against him and six subordinates for their alleged participation in the torture and death of 24-year-old Jeerapong Thanapat.

The six subordinates were Pol Capt Songyot Khlainak, Pol Maj Raveeroj Ditthong, Pol Lt Thoranin Makwanna, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Wisut Bunkhiew, Pol Snr Sgt Maj Supakorn Nimchuen, and Pol L/C Paweekorn Khammarieo.

All face charges of malfeasance causing harm to another person, conspiring to kill by torture and colluding with five or more people in coercion of another.

Jeerapong and his wife were arrested for reportedly possessing 100,000 methamphetamine pills on a province’s bypass road.

A subordinate filed the complaint with authorities and said his superior had demanded 2 million baht from the suspect, who had previously agreed to pay half that amount.

The man, who died at Muang Police Station in Nakhon Sawan on August 6, was allegedly suffocated. But the supervisor reportedly ordered other police officers to say Jeerapong had overdosed.

The subordinate also alleged that Jeerapong’s wife was released after agreeing to remain silent.

A lawyer disclosed the case through Facebook. On August 22, the complaint reached the Royal Police Office, prompting its police chief to expedite the investigation.

Pol Gen Wissanu Prasartthongosoth, a police chief inspector, went to Nakhon Sawan on Wednesday to follow up on the case.

Later, a police source revealed that four of the seven police agents involved in the torture had been arrested.

Also on Wednesday, a public hospital in Nakhon Sawan province responded to online attacks following its statement about the suspect’s death.

In its defense, the Sawanpracharak Hospital stated that possible amphetamine toxicity was included in the initial report as a cause of death to allow his relatives to request a death certificate.

The autopsy report suggested that amphetamine levels could be a possible cause.

Moreover, the hospital said the suspect had escaped before fainting and losing consciousness while the police were chasing him.

But it was only an initial finding, the hospital said in its new statement, adding that it had been waiting for laboratory test results to confirm blood levels of methamphetamine.

The complete autopsy report’s conclusion could be similar or different, the hospital added.