BANGKOK (AFP) – Three foreigners belonging to a suspected passport forgery ring were charged Saturday (Sept 24) after police found them with drugs, guns and a dismembered body stashed in the freezer of a Bangkok building.
Police said they are trying to confirm the nationalities of the English speakers, who were found with multiple passports, but suspect they are American or British.
A US Embassy spokesman said he was following the case but could not comment due to privacy concerns.
Police said one of the men grabbed a gun and opened fire during Friday’s raid, injuring one officer who has been hospitalised.
Officers then rounded up a cache of drugs and guns and discovered the bagged body parts of a man, described as a blond foreigner, inside a padlocked freezer on the ground floor.
“They are charged on five counts including attempting to kill an official on duty, resisting arrest, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, forging official documents and concealing a corpse,” said Chanin Vachirapraneekul, commander of the police station in Bangkok’s Phra Khanong district where the men were taken.
Forensic officers are working to identify the deceased.
A Myanmar housekeeper and her husband, who were initially detained with the group, have not been charged with any crimes and are being treated as witnesses in the case, said Bangkok’s deputy police commander Suwat Jangyodsuk.
“As of now we suspect that they are a passport forgery gang,” he said of the three men in custody.
“We seized more than ten fake documents, including passports,” he added.
Thailand has long served as a base for foreign criminals and fugitives lured by the kingdom’s porous borders, lax visa requirements and notoriously bribable police force.
A thriving forged documents trade has also helped shield countless crime syndicates populating Thailand’s vast underworld.
In February Thai police arrested an Iranian man known as “The Doctor” who crafted pristine passports from his home in a Bangkok suburb and sold the documents to thousands around the globe – including gangsters, rebels, refugees and migrant workers.