On the chaotic streets of Bangkok, an ominous scene develops as Chinese national Zhao Wulin, 36 years old, is apprehended by the Thai authorities in the Huai Khwang district, near the Si Rat Expressway. His vehicle, a nondescript sedan, had just collided causing a minor accident drawing attention to his unlawful activities.
This arrest was the end result of an escalating criminal saga where a Chinese woman was allegedly held captive by Zhao. The claims came to light due to a minor car accident, which ironically shattered Zhao’s nefarious plot as the captive woman seized the momentary distraction to escape. Dazed and tied, she burst from the eerily silent sedan and hailed a passing taxi, leaving the scene in her wake.
Police spokesperson, Pol Maj Gen Atthaporn Wongsiripreeda, outlying the seriousness of the alleged crimes, reports that Zhao, who following his arrest confessed to the charges, is under police custody under suspicion of unlawful detention, extortion, assault and sexually related offenses. Potential rape charges are waiting in the balance, dependent on medical examination reports from the victim.
Zhao’s backstory is very ordinary under scrutiny. Having driven taxis in the urban jungle of the United Arab Emirates, he arrived in Thailand just days before the reported incident. Investigations have so far found no evidence to connect him with any Chinese criminal organizations.
The victim, a 27-year-old woman, interestingly facilitates cosmetic surgery procedures in South Korea. A mobile application brought the two Chinese nationals together; following a period of 10 days exchanging interactive dialogues, they decided to meet face-to-face in Bangkok’s bustling dining scene at a popular barbecue joint. The woman alleges she lost consciousness after consuming alcohol and regained it naked and scared in a hotel room in the Ramkhamhaeng area of the city.
Harrowingly, the suspect seemed to be looking to exploit her financially by demanding a ransom of approximately one million Thai baht. Caught in a wave of fear and helplessness, she got a friend to wire roughly a quarter of the sum into her account. As they were driving to withdraw the funds, fate intervened and the collision offered a fortuitous escape route.
Thai law enforcement has been grappling with a rise in such incidents of Chinese nationals kidnapping their compatriots for ransom, making it one of their toughest security challenges. These crimes, which have been known to involve local immigration officials, have triggered a crackdown with measures to ensure the safety of tourists.
And with an anticipated rise in Chinese tourists due to a recently approved temporary visa-free program, the Thai police force will indeed have their work cut out for them, ensuring the safety and security of their international guests.