Just as they did during the peak of the area’s Russian-tourism boom, local law enforcement officials again are insisting there is no Chinese organized crime in Pattaya.
Top Pattaya, Tourist and Immigration police officers asserted that there are no “mafia” or “triad” gangs operating in Pattaya, despite recent Thai media claims to the contrary following a brawl among Chinese nationals in a Pattaya restaurant.
Most Chinese come to Pattaya in tour groups and don’t operate businesses here, Pattaya’s police chief Pol. Col. Apichai Kroppech said. Tourist Pol. Lt. Col. Piyapong Ensarn said there were some Chinese business owners, but most operated restaurants while others have companies in Bangkok. Deputy Chonburi Immigration chief Pol. Lt. Col. Thawatchai Nongbua said Chinese expats were mostly tour operators.
The police denials mirror those done by law enforcement and city administrators back in 2013, when Pattaya was as overrun by Russians as it now is by Chinese. Numerous arrests of Russian mafia fugitives fueled a steady stream of reports about Moscow organized crime gangs operating in far-out Jomtien Beach.
The heads of the Chonburi Immigration Office, Banglamung District, Pattaya Tourist Police, and the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, joined top officials from police stations in Chonburi, Nongprue, Banglamung and Pattaya and representatives from the National Intelligence Agency and Internal Security Operational Command on July 31, 2013 to condemn local media reports about crimes by both foreigners and Thais.
They complained the media was sensationalizing crimes and even distorting facts to make matters sound worse than they really were.
“I’ve not seen a real mafia criminal in Pattaya since (1998),” then PBTA President and now Pattaya City Councilman Sinchai Wattanasartsathorn said at the time.
Two months later, a Ukrainian mobster was arrested and charged with orchestrating the kidnapping of a compatriot in Pattaya who supposedly owed him money. Two more fugitive Russian mafia gangsters were captured here in the year after that.
The Russian tide has ebbed and now Chinese make up the bulk of the visitors to Pattaya, followed by Russians and Indians, with Germans and Britons far behind, Piyapong said. Apichai noted 13 million visitors came to Pattaya last year, 3 million of them Chinese.
Naturally, he said, some normal disagreements will break out, such as the restaurant argument that turned into fisticuffs. Police broke up the fight, but the two warring sides arranged to meet up again and, that time, two people ended up in Pattaya Memorial Hospital.
Tourist police arrested several of the fighters and charged them with disturbing the peace and assault. The Pattaya Provincial Court denied bail and they remain in Pattaya Remand Prison until they are prosecuted, deported and blacklisted, Apichai said.