Crime in Thailand

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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.

Official corruption is rampant in Thailand.[citation needed] 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] 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 increasing in recent years.[3][4]

By location[edit]

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,[5] former CIS, as well as other transnational gangs and drug mules involved in the trade.

Crime by type[edit]

Drugs and druggings[edit]

Thailand has a growing problem of drugs and the violence associated with it.[6] The drugs involved range from the traditional, kratom,[7] 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.[7]

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.[citation needed]

In 2012, it was estimated that there were some 1.2 million methamphetamine addicts in Thailand,[7] though this number may have been underestimated.[7] Methampetamines are so widely abused that animals, such as gibbons, slow lorises,[8][9] and elephants[10] are force-fed the stimulants to make them work longer hours, sedated to allow petting and entertain tourists.[citation needed]

In May 2012, it was discovered that nearly 50 million legal pseudoephedrine tablets had been stolen from Thai hospitals.[citation needed] Two billion more tablets were smuggled in from Taiwan and South Korea, with forged documents showing two Thai companies importing some eight billion more.[10] 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.[citation needed] 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".[11]

Animal abuse[edit]

Animal abuse in Thailand is widespread, including elephants tortured for tourism,[12] killing elephants for their tusks,[13] smuggling them from Myanmar,[14] exploiting elephants in cities,[15] and trading in animal parts[16]


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.[17]


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[18][19] and Thai zig zag scam.

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

Stateless persons are targeted with fake UN working rights cards.[24]

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.[25] 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.[26]

Human trafficking and prostitution[edit]

In 2013, the US State Department stated that Thailand faced the lowest rank (e.g. failing) in its Trafficking In Persons Report.[27] 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,".[27] 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.[28][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]

Domestic 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.[32] In 2006, 13,550 cases of domestic violence against women and children were reported by Thailand's Public Health Ministry.[33]

Crime dynamics[edit]

School violence and delinquency[edit]

Technical colleges for years have seen rival gang shootings at major intersections in Bangkok[34] and elsewhere, and tends to be an urban phenomenon. In one famous case, one such shootout began in response to Gangnam style faceoff.[35] 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..."[36]

Juvenile delinquency from 2003 to 2007 exploded, increasing some 70%, with both genders reporting large increases, despite the country moving up world economic rankings.[37]

Prison infrastructure and corruption[edit]

Thailand has woefully inadequate prison infrastructure, as well as a lack of political will to deal with the exploding crime problem.[citation needed] 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.[1] Mail sent to prisoners contained items such as mobile phones used to coordinate and organize crime outside of the prison.[38] This situation is not unique to Rayong Prison, and is commonplace throughout Thailand.[39]

Corrupt prison officials add to the issues of dealing with escalating crime.[39] In one case, a prison nurse was caught dealing drugs.[40] In a sting operation some 28 prison wardens were found to be smuggling drugs.[41] Authorities are so corrupt or incompetent that females were found in one male cell feeding five babies.[42]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.[43] Other initiatives include x-ray scanners,[1] and installing CCTV equipment. A new super-max prison is in the planning stages.[44]

Buddhist monks[edit]

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,[45] prostitutes, pornography, and guns, including senior monks.[46]

One case involved two monks attempting to ditch speed pills at a police checkpoint.[47][48] Another case involved a senior monk who claimed he needed money to "refurbish his temple", yet used the money for drugs and sex.[6] Murder by clergy has been reported increasingly.[49] There was even a case of Thai monks killing each other in the United States.[50]

Deaths of foreigners[edit]

A number of high-profile Westerners have died in Bangkok hotels including Hollywood actor David Carradine, The director of Tata Motors Karl Slym (British), and American businesswoman Wendy Albano.[51]

A backpacking British couple on the island of Ko Tao (aka Koh Tao) were found raped and murdered in 2014.[52] Other british backpackers that have been murdered include Jayne Nixon (found dead in a Bangkok hotel) and in another case Kirsty Jones (tourist) was raped and murdered in Chiang Mai, Thailand.[53] In 2013 an American ex-pat was chopped to death by his Bangkok cabbie with a sword.[54] Murders are notable enough that one writer produced a book called How Not To Get Murdered In Thailand[55] Indeed the author mentions the case of the murdered American Troy Pilkington and noted the contrasting dangers of both taxi cabs and public transportation.[56] One of the issues with cabbie's is their alleged drug use and abuse at the hands of Chinese organized-crime network which often charge them high fee to operate in the city.[56] The cabbies are typically poor farmers trying to earn money for their rural families.[56] Whatever the reasons for their demise, indeed many of the deaths are confusing or have unclear causes, Thailand has remained popular for adventures.[57] One young brit, Christina Annesley was found dead on Thai's Koh Tao island.[57] Musicians at a Thailand bar stabbed an American bushinessman to death in front of his son, there to celebrate his birthday with his family.[58] Thailand police arrested three of the musicians over the crime.[59]

Foreigners have committed crimes against other Foreigners in Thailand; for example in the case of Wendy Albano, the chief suspect was an Indian man who fled the country (fled Thailand).[60] One e

The Thai government has work with other countries to manage crime and for example has a prisoner exchange agreement with Australia.[61]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Overwhelming odds get better of efforts to stamp out prison drug trade". Bangkok Post (Thai Prison Life). 2012-09-09. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  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. "For Thailand, learning the Japanese way of reforming delinquents pays dividends - AJW by The Asahi Shimbun". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  5. ^ Ngamkham, Wassayos (2011-02-14). "Love, marriage and drug mules: Thai women are being tricked into drug trafficking". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 2015-01-24. 
  6. ^ a b Winn, Patrick (2012-10-18). "Thailand: monks on meth". globalpost. Retrieved 7 Mar 2015. 
  7. ^ a b c d
  8. ^ "Phuket wildlife officers warn of Bangla slow loris raids to come". 2014-03-20. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  9. ^ "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. 
  10. ^ a b "Massive Drug Smuggling in Thailand". Asia Sentinel. 2012-05-04. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  11. ^ "Amidst deep concern for Thailand's drug policies, some space for open debate - United Nations Drug Control". Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  12. ^ Campbell, Charlie (2014-07-08). "Elephants Are Tortured and Trafficked to Entertain Tourists in Thailand". Time. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  13. ^ "Thailand accused of fueling ivory trade". Bangkok Post. 2014-07-02. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  14. ^
  15. ^ Fuller, Thomas (2008-01-13). "In Bangkok, it's a tough life for elephants". New York Times. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  16. ^ Pakkawan, Assawin (2014-07-08). "Tiger parts found on highway". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  17. ^ "About 80 sex-abuse cases reported daily in Thailand". The Nation (Asia News Network). 2014-03-21. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  18. ^
  19. ^
  20. ^ Farrell, James Austin (Mar 2011). "The Boiler Room Boys". Citylife Chiang Mai (Vol. 20 No. 3). Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  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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  26. ^[dead link]
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  32. ^[dead link]
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  34. ^ "2 students held in fatal bus shooting." Bangkok Post. 19 Aug 2012.
  35. ^ 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 Sep 2012.
  36. ^ Sukpanich, Tunya (2012-11-18). "Easy guns bring Wild West mentality". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 7 Mar 2015. 
  37. ^ 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
  38. ^
  39. ^ a b[dead link]
  40. ^ "Prison nurse caught selling drugs to inmates". Thai Prison Life. Bangkok Post. 2012-09-24. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  41. ^ Laohong, King-Oua; Rakrun, Nucharee (2012-04-28). "Prison officials sacked after contraband blitz". Bangkok Post. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  42. ^
  43. ^ "Search of Khao Bin Prison turns up more illegal objects". The Nation. Thai Prison Life. 2012-02-11. Retrieved 6 Mar 2015. 
  44. ^
  45. ^ "Three Monks accused of drug dealing, caught in Sattahip". 2012-09-24. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  46. ^ "Sex in the monastery". 2009-01-30. Retrieved 2014-04-12. [dead link]
  47. ^ "Monks arrested with meth pills". Bangkok Post. 2012-10-17. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  48. ^ "Two monks caught using drugs at Temple in Sattahip District". 2012-03-21. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  49. ^ Thompson, Geoff (2011-11-05). "Scandals follow Thailand's monks". Down the Crooked Path. Retrieved 7 Mar 2015. 
  50. ^ Katherine Sayre (2012-05-12). "Buddhist monk accused of beating fellow monk to death at Grand Bay temple". The Times-Picayune. Retrieved 2014-04-12. 
  51. ^ Tata boss ‘suicide’ becomes latest high-profile Bangkok hotel death
  52. ^ Families of British backpackers in Thailand for murder trial
  53. ^ Second British backpack girl feared murdered in Thai hotel
  54. ^ Taxi Driver Hacks to Death a Foreigner in Bangkok
  55. ^ hailand Murder Suspects Innocent Claims How Not To Get Murdered In Thailand Author Andrew Gardner
  56. ^ a b c How Not To Get Murdered In Thailand By Andrew Gardner
  57. ^ a b British backpacker found dead on same Thai island British pair were murdered
  58. ^ Dallas businessman killed by musician in Thailand bar
  59. ^ Dallas businessman killed by musician in Thailand bar
  60. ^ Tata boss ‘suicide’ becomes latest high-profile Bangkok hotel death
  61. ^ Asian jails not very good: Downer, The Age, 22 April 2005

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