Author Topic: Facebook 'friend' disarms suspect  (Read 493 times)

Offline thaiga

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Facebook 'friend' disarms suspect
« on: March 04, 2013, 03:58:06 PM »
Alleged weapons trader who did business online falls foul of social network sting

Police have called Facebook a "frightening tool" after finding it was used to sell illegal weapons.

Last month they arrested a man known as Kamnan Aet who they said sold various types of guns and bombs by adding customers to his friends list on Facebook.

They say Kamnan Aet was the alias of Suriya Kokesombat, 25.

Pol Col Thiwa Sophacharoen, a superintendent of the Patrol and Special Operation Division, took charge of a crime suppression team which arrested Mr Suriya late last month.

The division, known as the 191 emergency police, is cracking down on illegal weapons in response to a rise in weapons-related crimes in the capital.

Col Pol Thiwa's team first searched for weapons that might be hidden in cars parked at nightspots in the Thong Lor area, where crimes have been frequently reported.

The police found that many weapons which lawbreakers obtained were ordered from online catalogues.

A police informant told investigators he was a Facebook friend of Kamnan Aet and learned he sold illegal weapons on the internet.

His Facebook page, called "Kamnan Aet of Ban Nong Puen Taek" (the Gun Village) contained photos of guns.

Police said Mr Suriya had been in the trade long enough to know he might be lured into selling weapons to undercover police. He nonetheless fell victim to a sting operation organised with the informant's help.

Police say that as a precaution, Mr Suriya would screen potential customers on Facebook, and add them to his contact list only after interacting with them for some time. If customers gained his trust, he or his sales agent would deliver the weapons to them in person. Otherwise, he would send the weapons by post.

A police informant spent about a week persuading Mr Suriya to sell him a gun.

Mr Suriya told his sales agent to deliver the weapon to an address on Phahon Yothin Soi 55 on Feb 25.

The courier, later identified as Witthaya Chaiuea-ari, 32, was nabbed as soon as he handed the gun over to the informant.

A search of Mr Witthaya's house uncovered three guns, weapons parts and bullets.

Police instructed Mr Witthaya to deceive Mr Suriya into believing that a customer wanted to buy more weapons.

Mr Suriya made the deal and agreed to hand over the weapons at his own home in Sam Wa Soi 17 of Klong Sam Wa district.

Police arrested him there. They found the house had been turned into a small armoury stocking 11 mostly homemade guns, 536 rounds of ammunition, two M18 smoke bombs and equipment to make weapons.

Mr Suriya told police he has a background as a mechanic. He had sold more than 100 guns in the seven months he had been in the illegal weapons trade.

Most of his customers were vocational students, university students and teenagers, he said.

Pol Col Thiwa said his team would work to track down his customers and seize their weapons.

If police can reduce the amount of firearms in people's hands, the number of weapons-related crimes will also fall, he said.

"It's true the online world is very useful but it can also be harmful, as in this case," Pol Col Thiwa said.

Mr Witthaya and Mr Suriya have been charged with trading and possessing illegal weapons without permission.

Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined.