Crime in Thailand

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Post coup disclaimer: Following the May 2014 coup, there has been a strong crackdown on all types of crime, which is seen as having a lasting effect as kingpins, high ranking officials, drug lords, and even members of the military have been captured. The situation continues to evolve.

Crime in Thailand is a persistent, growing, complex, internationalized, and underrecognized problem. Since the coup, Crime in Thailand is reported by the Royal Thai Police, however, there is no agency which acts as a watchdog and publishes their own statistics.

Official corruption is rampant in Thailand, it ranges from bribery to outright police collusion. The interplay of extremely addictive drugs, prostitution, political paralysis, corruption and collusion, a culture of impunity,[1] lax gun control, international tourism and trade, liberal sexual mores, traditional Buddhist tolerance[2] and tendency to ignore problems has led to an increasingly multifaceted and complex crime epidemic in the country. Juvenile delinquency has also been exploding in recent years.[3][4]

Crime has been infiltrating all components of Thai society, including Buddhist monks, which have become a prime target, as it offers a veil of legitimacy for criminal organizations to conduct operations. There has been a major surge of monks in a string of cases caught with methamphetamines, selling drugs,[5] prostitutes, pornography, and guns, including senior monks in recent years.[6][7] One case involved two monks attempting to ditch speed pills at a police checkpoint.[8][9] Another case involved a senior monk claimed he needed money to "refurbish his temple", yet used the money for drugs and sex[10] Even murder has been becoming increasingly reported among clergy,[11] with a case of Thai monks killing each other in the United States.[12]

Drugs and druggings[edit]

Previous attempts to control the drug trade through the 2003 War on Drugs, was met with allegations of Thaksin-allied politically inspired targeted killing, quotas of dead of drug traffickers, and targeting of innocent victims. During the regime of Thaksin's sister, former Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra, connections with the red shirt/yellow shirt political crisis weighed heavy on a country whose religion preaches tolerance and forgiveness.

Thailand has a growing narcotics control problem[10] and violence problem associated with it, with traditional drugs such as Ya Baa and Kratom[13] from poppies grown in Myanmar, local herbal medicines, and from the Golden Triangle being replaced. Since about 2005 onwards a surge of nightlife inspired party drugs took root, both speed and methamphetamine addiction, with increasingly violent behavior resulting from addicted persons. Some 1.2 million addicts of methamphetamine are estimated to be in the country by the Narcotics Control Board, the most popular drug of choice, that number seems to be an underestimate and is rising.[13] Methampetamines are so widely abused, that animals, such as gibbons, slow lorises,[14][15] and elephants[16] are force-fed the stimulants to make them work longer hours, sedated to allow petting and entertain tourists.

On May 2, 2012, it was discovered that nearly 50 million legal pseudoephedrine tablets to had been stolen from Thailand's hospitals, in addition to some 2 billion tablets smuggled from Taiwan and South Korea into the country, with forged documents showing 2 Thai companies of importing some 8 billion more.[16] They had reported the drugs as import of electronics and automobile parts. Thailand responded by close monitoring of the sale and distribution of pseudoephedrine.

Druggings of tourists and locals alike by sex workers and thieves are an almost daily news occurrence in major tourist centers like Pattaya or Phuket. A United Nations report on the situation in Thailand states Many of those now incarcerated in Thailand’s prisons are likely to be low-level traders and drug users, as they are more easy targets for police, rather than large scale traffickers and organised criminals.[17]

Animal Abuse[edit]

Animal abuse in Thailand is widespread, including tortured elephants for tourism, tusks in ivory trade, smuggling them from Myanmar,[18] bringing elephants into urban areas where they suffer, and animal parts trade.


Rape has seen a rise along violent crime and methamphetamine abuse in general in Thailand.

in 2013, some 87 sex abuse cases are reported daily in Thailand, with most offenders close to the victim. Police also refused to accept complaints, giving excuses such as political unrest. The youngest victim was aged one year and nine months and oldest was 85, while the youngest offender was a 10-year-old boy who took part in a gang-rape and the oldest was an 85-year-old man who molested a young girl.[19]

White collar[edit]

The boiler room scam (a fake stock trading scam) is perhaps the most publicized white collar crime in Thailand.[20][21][22][23]

Crime knows no limits in Thailand, even stateless persons are targeted with fake UN working rights cards.[24]

Tourist scams and touts[edit]

Thailand as a major tourist destination is infamous for scams and touts. Among the most famous and lucrative are the gem scam, Thai tailor scam, fake travel agents[25][26] and Thai zig zag scam.

Human trafficking and prostitution[edit]

It's (forced labor) very large-scale, much of it very well organised and sophisticated. Obviously significant criminal elements are involved in it as wellDavid Garner, President of International Labour Conference's Committee on Forced Labour for United Nations.[27]

The US State Department states the country faces the lowest rank (e.g. failing) in its upcoming Trafficking In Persons Report, Thai police and immigration officials "extorted money or sex" from detainees or "sold Burmese migrants unable to pay labor brokers or sex traffickers," the 2013 report said.[28] According to International Labour Organisation's officials, Thailand was the only government to vote against the treaty at ILO's annual ministerial conference regarding the United Nations Forced Labour Convention in June 2014.[27][29] In response, Walmart and Costco retail chains in USA have dumped Charoen Pokphand as a supplier of seafood products due to suppliers that "own, operate or buy from fishing boats manned with slaves." [30] The Thai government on June 15 caved to international pressure and explained its intention to rescind its previous ILO vote.[31]

Infrastructure and staff[edit]

However, Thailand has woefully inadequate infrastructure, political will to deal with the exploding crime problem. In Rayong Central Prison, which was designed to house 3,000 inmates but holds 6,000, improvised rocket canisters have been used to relay goods from the outside world over the top of walls into the prison, the likes of some reportedly shooting 200 meters upwards.[1] In addition, post mail received by prisoners contained items such as mobile phones to coordinate and organize crime outside of the prison.[32] This situation is not unique to Rayong Prison, and commonplace throughout Thailand. Corrupt prison officials add to the woes of dealing with escalating crime.,[33] in one case, a prison nurse was caught dealing drugs, in a sting operation some 28 prison wardens were found to be smuggling drugs.[34] Authorities are so aloof or turned a blind eye to the ongoings that females were found in one male cell feeding five babies.[35] Thai authorities have been responding by installing mobile phone jamming equipment, promising a new maximum security prison,[36] but these jammers has been proven to offer a false sense of security, as a wall crack was used to store phones where the jammers could not penetrate.[37] Other initiatives include x-ray scanners,[1] and installing CCTV equipment.

Identity theft and passport racket[edit]

Serious passport and identification forgery has caught the attention of US authorities in the case of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. 259 stolen visa labels disappeared in a Thai consulate in Malaysia in August 2013, and had been used to cross Thai border by 35 Iranians, 1 Cameroonian, 20 Nigerians, 4 Pakistanis, 4 Indians and other people from Asia Minor Countries.[38]

Gender violence[edit]

Violence against women has been rising in Thailand, some 27,000 victims have been admitted to hospitals in the years of 2007-2012.[39] In 2006, 13,550 cases of domestic violence against women and children were reported by Thailand's Public Health Ministry.[40]

School violence and delinquency[edit]

Guns are like school supplies. On our campus, we might use a gun to protect ourselves from violent, unruly seniors. Outside, we have rival schools ...—Adolescent student in Thai school (name withheld)[41]

Technical colleges for years have seen rival gang shootings at major intersections in Bangkok[42] and elsewhere, but tends to be an urban phenomenon. In one famous case, one such shootout began in response to Gangnam Style faceoff.[43]

Juvenile delinquency from 2003 to 2007 exploded, increasing some 70%, with both genders reporting large increases, despite the country moving up world economic rankings.[44]

Geography of crime[edit]

Much of Thailand's crime are in urban areas where tourists congregate as they are easy targets, as well as where rampant prostitution and human trafficking feeds their vices. The prime areas of drug abuse are Bangkok, Phuket, and Pattaya, but not limited to these areas. The prime transit corridors for drugs come from northern Thailand from the Golden Triangle, as well as ethnically divided rebel controlled areas within the fragmented state of Myanmar, especially Shan State, and Thailand's international ports, like Laem Chabang near Pattaya, and Suvarnabhumi International Airport, there have been a number of African,[45] former CIS, as well as other transnational gangs and drug mules involved in the trade.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c
  2. ^ "Death penalty abolished for young offenders | Thai Prison Life – ชีวิตในเรือนจำ". 2012-08-30. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  3. ^ "Intergenerational transmission of religious belief... [J Adolesc. 2013] - PubMed - NCBI". 2014-01-24. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  4. ^ TAKAAKI NISHIYAMA/ Staff Writer. "For Thailand, learning the Japanese way of reforming delinquents pays dividends - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  5. ^ "Three Monks accused of drug dealing, caught in Sattahip | Pattaya One – Pattaya News, Thailand News, World News, updated 24 hours a day". 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  6. ^ "Sex in the monastery". 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  7. ^ "เสื่อม!บุกจับพระค้ายาบ้าคากุฏิ : อาชญากรรม : ข่าวทั่วไป : คมชัดลึกออนไลน์". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  8. ^ "Monks arrested with meth pills | Bangkok Post: news". Bangkok Post. 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  9. ^ "Two monks caught using drugs at Temple in Sattahip District | Pattaya One – Pattaya News, Thailand News, World News, updated 24 hours a day". 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  10. ^ a b "Thailand: monks caught with meth". GlobalPost. 2012-10-18. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  11. ^ Posted by Luke (2011-11-05). "DowntheCrookedPath: Scandals follow Thailand’s monks". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  12. ^ Katherine Sayre. "Buddhist monk accused of beating fellow monk to death at Grand Bay temple (video)". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  13. ^ a b
  14. ^ "Phuket wildlife officers warn of Bangla slow loris raids to come". 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  15. ^ "Police arrest Slow Loris owners in South Pattaya | Pattaya One – Pattaya News, Thailand News, World News, updated 24 hours a day". 2012-03-15. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  16. ^ a b "Massive Drug Smuggling in Thailand". Asia Sentinel. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  17. ^ "Amidst deep concern for Thailand's drug policies, some space for open debate - United Nations Drug Control". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  18. ^
  19. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  20. ^ "Chiang Mai Citylife: The Boiler Room Boys by James Austin Farrell". 2011-03-03. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  21. ^ "Thailand". Couchsurfing. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  22. ^ Lowe, Greg (2011-04-12). "Greg Lowe: How to deal with Bangkok's illegal financial advisors | CNN Travel". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
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  24. ^ "Cards stacked against migrants sucked into scam | Bangkok Post: news". Bangkok Post. 2012-11-18. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
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  41. ^ [" "Easy guns bring Wild West mentality"]. Bangkok Post. 18 November 2012. 
  42. ^ "2 students held in fatal bus shooting." Bangkok Post. 19 August 2012.
  43. ^ Boehler, Patrick. "‘Gangnam Style’ Dance-Off Ends in Shoot-Out. A boy in New Zealand is also said to have been kidnapped by a Thailand gang in 2008 following the Juvenile delinquency coming to an end in 2007." TIME. 24 September 2012.
  44. ^ United Nations Asia and Far East Institute for the Prevention of Crime and the Treatment of Offenders JUVENILE CRIME AND TREATMENT OF SERIOUS AND VIOLENT JUVENILE DELINQUENTS IN THAILAND Korakod Narkvichetr
  45. ^

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