Thai Police Launch Multiple Raids To Dismantle Gun Trading Network

On Monday, officers from the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) police launched multiple operations in Bangkok, Chon Buri, Udon Thani and Chiang Mai provinces to dismantle an illegal arms trade network.

According to Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), Commissioner Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, CSD’s Hanuman special operations unit deployed armed officers with 16 court warrants to search premises in 25 locations across the five provinces.

Several suspected arms dealers and people with many weapons in their possession were arrested during the raids, including the alleged leader of the illegal ring, Danupol “Bell” Samaesarn.

Monday’s raids followed a similar CSA operation in Chiang Rai and Nong Khai provinces in 2020.

According to police reports, many seized weapons were originally issued by the government with proper registration documents under state welfare programs in Chon Buri’s Si Racha district and Kanchanaburi’s Sai Yok district.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop said that Mr. Danupol had connections with officials, drug suppression team members, and defense volunteers. The suspect reportedly used identification cards to submit applications at the district office for official permits to purchase weapons through welfare programs.

Mr. Danupol then presented the official permits and was handed over weapons with the official registration required under Thai law. Corrupt officials in Si Racha and Sai Yok districts allegedly helped him collect the guns and deliver them to traders in neighboring Myanmar.

The man had already faced legal trouble in 2018 after the Provincial Administration Department set up a panel to lead an investigation against him for allegedly using forged documents to buy arms from the government. He served as assistant village chief in Tambon Samaesarn village at Chon Buri’s Sattahip district and obtained the illegal weapons through welfare programs.

The Chon Buri police arrested Mr. Danupol with 46 rifles in his possession back then. All the weapons were issued with their corresponding official Por 4 documents, which allow the guns’ possession, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop added.

CBI’s commissioner did not elaborate on the matter, but national police chief Pol Gen Suwat Jangyodsuk is expected to give more details this week.