The aim is to build “safety zones” in crowded tourist attractions, defence spokesman Kongcheep Tantravanich quoted Gen Prawit, also Defence Minister, as saying Sunday (Oct 1).
The operations, which began in the resort city of Pattaya in Chon Buri late last month, are being carried out as key police agencies, including the Crime Suppression Division and the Immigration Bureau, formally appointed their new chiefs Sunday.
The Immigration Bureau plays an important role in dealing with mafia networks involved in illegal entry into Thailand and other transnational crimes, Gen Kongcheep said.
During the latest operations in Pattaya, police arrested many foreign suspects who secretly entered Thailand or overstayed their visas, he added.
Such breaches of the law, together with the drug trade, prostitution and extortion, are often linked with mafia gangs, he noted.
And when crimes are committed at tourist spots, they not only hurt Thai tourism but in many cases, tourists can bear the brunt of such criminal activities, he said.
Even street crime such as criminals snatching tourists' belongings will be tackled under the crackdown, Gen Kongcheep said. “We will carry out similar crackdowns almost simultaneously nationwide,” he said.
The new mission may be seen as a joint investigation between military officers and local police, but the public have also played an important role in helping authorities tackle crimes, Gen Kongcheep explained.
Investigators often get tipped off by residents in tourist areas, he said.
Newly appointed Immigration Bureau Chief Pol Lt Gen Sutthiphong Wongpin vowed his agency will intensify crackdowns on transnational criminal gangs and improve immigration control at crowded airports.
They are among two main policies he announced during his first meeting with senior immigration officers, following a welcoming ceremony in which his predecessor Maj Gen Nathathorn Prousoontorn participated.
According to Gen Sutthiphong, security and non-security missions cannot be separated at his agency.
Police have to strictly screen out transnational criminal suspects fleeing to Thailand or using the country as their base to commit new crimes. At the same time, the officers also have to realise that part of their work is to help foreign tourists entering Thailand.
After a staff shortage among immigration officers at Don Mueang Airport in early August led to long waits for arriving foreigners to have their passports checked, it was clear his agency cannot ignore this part of the job, Lt Gen Sutthiphong said.
Huge delays at Suvarnabhumi International Airport earlier this year were not mentioned.
The CSD also held a welcoming ceremony Sunday for its new chief Pol Col Maitri Chimchoet, who will succeed Pol Maj Gen Suthin Sapphuang as acting CSD commander.
The agency, authorised to conduct investigations nationwide, has also played a key role in the crackdown on mafia gangs. “I’ll do my best,” Pol Col Maitri said. “At least I’ll maintain the CSD standards which are already good.”
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