The recent arrest of Navaporn Phakiatsakul, a 53-year-old Chinese woman with Thai citizenship, uncovered a criminal syndicate that has raised serious concern for Thai law enforcement. Police suspected Navaporn of being the leader of a gang engaged in a fraudulent scheme, surrogacy, and human trafficking. National deputy police chief Pol Gen Surachate Hakparn emphasized the urgency to deal with the increasing threat posed by Chinese organized crime in Thailand.
Police were initially tipped off about the criminal ring by Chinese authorities but made little headway until a ransom case involving Chinese nationals occurred in Chon Buri’s Bang Lamung district. Ma Mingshan, a Chinese businessman, filed a report with the local police stating that his wife and brother were kidnapped shortly after leaving their three-year-old son at school. The kidnappers demanded a ransom of 1 million yuan (about 4.7 million baht) via WeChat, an encrypted messaging app.
With cooperation from Thai police, one of the suspects was apprehended at Suvarnabhumi airport, while the other three fled to Shanghai, China. Pol Gen Surachate ordered further investigation into the case, and careful examination revealed many troubling connections and irregularities.
During the probe, police discovered that the kidnapped woman had overstayed her visa, and her son, born to Thai surrogate parents, had Thai nationality. Navaporn was found to have provided shelter to the Thai surrogate mother during pregnancy, and with information from previous Chinese sources, she quickly became a focus for the investigation.
Navaporn’s illicit activities date back to the early 1990s, shortly after she acquired Thai citizenship through marriage to a Thai man. Police investigations revealed Navaporn had used false information to help Chinese associates, including those involved in illegal businesses, to obtain non-citizen identification cards (pink cards), which allowed them to stay in Thailand longer than a tourist visa. Additionally, she operated an illegal surrogacy service catered to Chinese couples, working with Thai doctors to carry out the procedure both in Thailand and neighboring countries.
Thai authorities believe Navaporn’s criminal network runs deep, with dozens of women falsely claiming to be related to her in order to stay in the country. Her children, who all have Thai citizenship, hold assets worth billions of baht and run a legitimate insurance firm with an annual income of 600 million baht. Navaporn has so far been charged with falsifying and using fake official documents, giving false information to authorities, and using bogus visa stamps on international travel documents.
As the investigation continues, police are seeking to press additional charges against Navaporn, including money laundering, and examining her possible involvement in criminal activities under other aliases. Pol Gen Surachate affirms that both Thai and Chinese authorities are working closely to dismantle the entire criminal network and deter Chinese criminals from using Thailand as a base for their illegal activities.
“We’re going through records to see if Miss Navaporn is wanted in other cases. The investigation is widening, and we must wipe out the entire syndicate,” Pol Gen Surachate stated.
The rise of Chinese organized crime in Thailand has increasingly become a matter of public safety, deterring some Chinese tourists from visiting the country. Nonetheless, the recent arrest of Navaporn Phakiatsakul and the ongoing investigation into her criminal syndicate demonstrate that Thai law enforcement is committed to pursuing and eliminating such threats to the nation’s security and well-being.