Thai Police Target Five Major Biker Gangs
The Royal Thai Police (RTP) are intensifying their efforts against five major biker gangs operating in Thailand, following the arrest of the leader and members of the Outlaws Motorcycle Club in Pattaya on July 21. Deputy National Police Chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn confirmed that the Outlaws MC, Hells Angels, Bandidos Motorcycle Club, Mongols Motorcycle Club, and Vagos Motorcycle Club are all being investigated. These gangs, predominantly run by Australian nationals, are involved in various criminal activities such as drug trafficking, assault, extortion, theft, loan-sharking, fraud, money laundering, attempted murder, and murder.
Biker Gangs’ Presence Driven by Weak Law Enforcement
According to Pol Gen Surachate, the main reasons for these gangs’ presence in Thailand are lax law enforcement and corruption among officials. The outdated 1979 Immigration Act, for instance, presents a minimal barrier for foreigners seeking to obtain retirement visas, ultimately enabling criminals and gang members to enter the country. To combat this issue and prevent international criminals from causing trouble in Thailand, Pol Gen Surachate called for stricter enforcement of laws and amendments to the immigration law, particularly concerning visa extensions.
Areas of Operation
The biker gangs typically operate in tourist-heavy areas, such as Pattaya, Phuket, and Koh Samui. Their criminal activities primarily target foreigners, both exploiting them through protection fees for businesses and kidnapping for ransom. Consequently, these gangs avoid conflicts with locals, as they are well aware of the potential consequences.
Strengthening Visa Criteria and Enhancing Safety
Pol Gen Surachate believes that stronger visa criteria could help prevent gang members from entering Thailand, thus ensuring the safety of foreigners. He also cited the need to eradicate “bad guys” among police officials and other agencies dealing with foreigners, as well as building trust among local and international residents. When a new government takes office, he plans to propose amendments to the immigration law through the police chief, with the aim of making the law more effective in screening out criminal elements.
Ongoing Investigations and Future Plans
Following the successful crackdown on the Outlaws gang in Pattaya, police are now extending their investigations to Phuket and Koh Samui. Pol Gen Surachate emphasized the importance of strict law enforcement and the need to prevent international criminal organizations from causing trouble in Thailand, ensuring the safety of all residents and visitors.