Thieving taxi drivers caught in Thai army sting

Soldiers’ sting nets taxi drivers trying to extort money from migrant workers

Three taxi drivers operating in Pathum Thani’s Thanyaburi district on Sunday were arrested for overcharging customers, not having a driving licence to operate a public vehicle and extortion.

The drivers fell into a trap set up by soldiers who had received complaints that a group of drivers working at a taxi stand near Major Rangsit department store at Paholyothin Department Store overcharged them and refused to use the meter.

Three soldiers then disguised themselves as migrant workers and got off a bus at the stand. The three taxi drivers, Kajornsak Boonsungnuen, 39, Thawatchai Wongsanga, 37 and Sorasak Ponpaka, 34, approached the soldiers, saying that they would use the meter.

Colonel Surachai Jaiua, a unit chief for Thanyaburi district, said the disguised soldiers got into one of the taxis but the driver locked the door and allegedly started trying to extort money from them.

He asked to see their work permits and when they could not produce them, the driver demanded Bt1,500 from each worker.

Surachai did not disclose who the driver was or the vehicle’s licence plate.

The soldiers said they agreed to pay the money because they did not have work permits, and gave the driver a marked Bt1,000 banknote, telling him that their employer who would pay the rest of the money upon their arrival at their destination.

They telephoned a senior officer who disguised himself as the employer and let the driver talk to him.

When they arrived at the destination, the driver was arrested. Soldiers then returned to the stand and arrested the two others taxi drivers. Surachai said a total of five drivers were believed to be engaged in criminal activity. – The Nation

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