Crime in Thailand
Post coup disclaimer: According to Thai media, following the May 2014 coup there have been crackdowns on several types of crime. A number of kingpins, high ranking officials, drug lords, and members of the military have been apprehended. This might have lasting effects. The situation continues to evolve. (sources?)
Crime in Thailand is a persistent, growing, complex, internationalized, and under-recognized problem. Since the 2014 coup, crime in Thailand is reported by the Royal Thai Police, however, there is no agency which acts as a watchdog and publishes its own statistics. According to one recent (2014) book, Thailand "...has come to justifiably be regarded as one of the most dangerous tourist destinations on Earth."
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, lax gun control, international tourism and trade, liberal sexual mores, traditional Buddhist tolerance and tendency to ignore problems has led to an increasingly multifaceted and complex crime epidemic in the country. Juvenile delinquency has also been increasing in recent years.
- 1 By location
- 2 Crime by type
- 3 Crime dynamics
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Much of Thailand's crime is 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, former CIS, as well as other transnational gangs and drug mules involved in the trade.
Crime by type
Drugs and druggings
Thailand has a growing problem of drugs and the violence associated with it. The drugs involved range from the traditional, kratom, to ya baa, opium from Myanmar, and local herbal medicines. Since about 2005, a surge of nightlife-inspired party drugs took hold, with increasingly violent behavior exhibited by users.
A previous attempt to control the drug trade by declaring the 2003 War on Drugs, was met with allegations of Thaksin-allied, politically-inspired targeted killings, quotas of dead drug traffickers, and the targeting of innocent victims.
In 2012, it was estimated that there were some 1.2 million methamphetamine addicts in Thailand. This is number may be an underestimate. Methampetamines are so widely abused that animals, such as gibbons, slow lorises, and elephants are force-fed the stimulants to make them work longer hours, sedated to allow petting and entertain tourists.
In May 2012, it was discovered that nearly 50 million legal pseudoephedrine tablets had been stolen from Thai hospitals. Two billion more tablets were smuggled in from Taiwan and South Korea, with forged documents showing two Thai companies importing some eight billion more. They had reported the drugs to be imports of electronics and automobile parts. Thailand responded by close monitoring of the sale and distribution of pseudo-ephedrine.
Druggings of tourists and locals alike by sex workers and thieves are a rare, but not uncommon, 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".
Animal abuse in Thailand is widespread, including elephants tortured for tourism, killing elephants for their tusks, smuggling them from Myanmar, exploiting elephants in cities, and trading in animal parts
In 2013, some 87 women came forward with reports of sexual abuse or to acquire counseling as a result of sexual abuse daily in Thailand, with most offenders known to the victim. Police 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.
Serious passport and identification forgery caught the attention of US authorities after the disappearance of Malaysia Airlines Flight 370. Some 259 stolen visa labels had disappeared from a Thai consulate in Malaysia in August 2013. They were used to cross the Thai border illegally. Thirty-five Iranians, one Cameroonian, 20 Nigerians, four Pakistanis, four Indians, and others from Asia made the crossing.
Human trafficking and prostitution
In 2013, the US State Department stated that Thailand faced the lowest rank (e.g. failing) in its Trafficking In Persons Report. The 2013 report stated that Thai police and immigration officials "extorted money or sex" from detainees or "sold Burmese migrants unable to pay labor brokers or sex traffickers,". According to officials from the International Labour Organisation (ILO), Thailand was the only government to vote against the United Nations Forced Labour Convention at the ILO's annual ministerial conference in June 2014.
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."  The Thai government on June 15 caved to international pressure and explained its intention to rescind its previous ILO vote.
Violence against women has been rising in Thailand, some 27,000 victims have been admitted to hospitals in the years of 2007-2012. In 2006, 13,550 cases of domestic violence against women and children were reported by Thailand's Public Health Ministry.
School violence and delinquency
Technical colleges for years have seen rival gang shootings at major intersections in Bangkok and elsewhere, and tends to be an urban phenomenon. In one famous case, one such shootout began in response to Gangnam style faceoff. One technical school student is quoted as saying, "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..."
Juvenile delinquency from 2003 to 2007 exploded, increasing some 70%, with both genders reporting large increases, despite the country moving up world economic rankings.
Prison infrastructure and corruption
Thailand has woefully inadequate prison infrastructure, as well as a lack of 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 were used to relay goods from the outside world over the top of walls into the prison. Mail sent to prisoners contained items such as mobile phones used to coordinate and organize crime outside of the prison. This situation is not unique to Rayong Prison, and is commonplace throughout Thailand.
Corrupt prison officials add to the issues of dealing with escalating crime. In one case, a prison nurse was caught dealing drugs. In a sting operation some 28 prison wardens were found to be smuggling drugs. Authorities are so corrupt or incompetent that females were found in one male cell feeding five babies.Thai authorities have responded by installing mobile phone jamming equipment, 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. Other initiatives include x-ray scanners, and installing CCTV equipment. A new super-max prison is in the planning stages.
Crime has inflitrated all components of Thai society, including Buddhist institutions. The monastic life offers a veil of legitimacy to criminal organizations. There have been a number of monks in a string of cases in recent years caught with methamphetamines, selling drugs, prostitutes, pornography, and guns, including senior monks.
One case involved two monks attempting to ditch speed pills at a police checkpoint. Another case involved a senior monk who claimed he needed money to "refurbish his temple", yet used the money for drugs and sex. Murder by clergy has been reported increasingly. There was even a case of Thai monks killing each other in the United States.
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- Easy guns bring Wild West mentality
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- Everyone suffers when lunatics run the asylum
- 2013 Crime and Safety report on Thailand from the US Bureau of Diplomatic Security.