Thailand's Daily Crime Pill #15: Scarface in Pattaya & Pig's blood in Singapore.

And did you ever wonder how much opium Thailand produced in 1978?

Dear expats and readers,

I remember the first time I met somebody who had been shot.

I was 13 years old — the other guy was 19, and ended up on the bad end of an officer’s standard issue 9mm. He took two rounds of hot lead: one in the belly, one in the shoulder.

Even several years after his wounds healed, a crater of skin bubbled up into a scar that looked painful. I asked him if it still hurt. He told me no, but it itched like hell — and it was nothing a bit of Jergen’s couldn’t handle.

About a year later, I found myself on the bad end of a .357 Magnum — I still remember its clean steel reflected the room around me on the barrel, and I’m unsure if the curved cylinder or my own fear distorted the image.

They wanted money — and I didn’t have it. But that didn’t dissuade them. Two or three strong kicks and the front door went down. They stormed in. Stuck me up. And ransacked everything to find it.

For some reason, the dude didn’t pull the trigger. But his parting words were: “We’re gonna come back and blast you.”

I was 14 years old — and it goes without saying, I ran with a bad set. I knew two of the guys that broke in. The guy with the .357, I’d never seen before in my life.

In quiet moments I wonder what I’d be if the guy did pull the trigger — and there’s no sugar-coating the answer: whatever I was, whatever I’ve become, and whatever I’ll be would’ve been splattered on the wall.

The story might’ve hit the local news, some guy on the crime beat would do a 500 word write-up, and that’s a wrap.

There’s no negotiation with a .357 at point blank range.

The experience taught me a fair few things. And over time I’ll probably share more about that — but I’m already 350 words deep into my own personal reflections, and there are Thai crime stories that I need to write.

That’s my obligation to you — my readers.

There is one thing I did learn, though: it takes serious cojones to confront somebody that you very well know is armed and dangerous.

What’s even worse — not knowing they’re armed, but learning it by surprise.

That’s what happened to Thai officers down in Pattaya on May 19th when they raided a luxury home — dubbed the Miraflores House — that sat in a moo-baan on the grounds of the Phoenix Gold Golf Course.

Inside the Miraflores was a suspect who had been reported to officers as being involved with “international crime.”

His name — Mr. Zhang Yang, 34 years old, Chinese national, but holding a St. Kitts & Nevis passport.

Mr. Yang must’ve been doing OK for himself: 3 luxury cars relaxed in the carpark, one being a white Rolls Royce with 999 vanity plate.

Officers surrounded the home, and the SWAT team gathered to secure the area and ensure success in the raid.

One cop knocked on the door and identified himself as Royal Thai Police, with a warrant describing crimes related to the Computer Crimes Act and other offenses.

Mr. Yang booked it to a 3rd floor bedroom.

The cops followed.

Mr. Yang holed up in the room and shot two officers in a skirmish: three 9mm rounds struck Police Lt. Col. Phanthep Sribunnak, head of a special operations unit that assisted Pattaya police with multinational crime.

He got hit once each in the shoulder, the chest, and the stomach, and remains in serious condition. Doctors found a lung hit and a pierced spleen, along with a lot of blood loss.

Another officer was hit in the leg, he's unnamed and was brought to a local hospital.

Mr. Yang was detained after the gunfight.

Four other unnamed Chinese nationals were in the home, along with two Burmese women described as maids, and a Thai woman who may have been romantically involved with Mr. Yang.

Searching the home turned up two modified 9mm’s that had been converted to fully automatic pistols, body armor, 60-70 rounds of ammo, and computers that have been taken as evidence.

In doing research for this story, I came across plenty of armchair coppers who critiqued the way the police conducted the raid.

“Look at them! Ha! Thai police never know their arse from the hole in the ground!”

“No wonder they got shot, they never work besides giving out traffic tickets!”

And the like. You know the type — they’re the kind of guys that can win the championship without ever setting foot on the field.

I don’t waste my time responding to jokers like that. Keyboard warriors would be the first to shit their pants and run once things got a bit hot.

These Thai cops, though? The ones that pursued Mr. Yang and ended up on the evil end of the 9mm?

Yeah, those guys have cojones — and I’m rooting for Mr. Sribunnak to recover from his injuries. Because one of those rounds could have ended it all for him then and there.

That’s what some officers deal with. They’re putting it all on the line to get guys like Mr. Yang, who by the looks of it was involved with some heavy crime.

Speaking of Mr. Yang, I’ll keep tabs on the story to see if anything else surfaces about the guy. Because whatever dirty business he was up to was lucrative — and I always follow the money.

Other things I’m reading…

  • This story out of Singapore, where a Thai restaurant has been fined for serving pig’s blood. According to the document, animal blood is illegal in Singapore for sanitary concerns. True Crime Thailand has a sizeable following of Singaporeans, and I’d be curious to hear their thoughts on this one.

  • Did you ever wonder how much opium Thailand produced in 1978? No? Well, I’ve got the answer — at least, if we can trust this cable. It gives a nice peak into the operations of opium harvesting, production, and the narcotic’s varieties. Every once in awhile I’ll drop a cable into the Crime Pill that readers might find interesting.

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That’s all for today…

Until tomorrow’s Crime Pill, stay safe out there everybody.

- True Crime Thailand