Bangkok, Thailand, Sep 24 – Three foreign men belonging to a suspected passport forgery ring were charged Saturday after police found them with drugs, guns and a dismembered body stashed in the freezer of a Bangkok building.
Police said they are working to confirm the nationalities of the English speakers, who were found with multiple passports, but suspect they are American or British.
A US Embassy spokesman said he was following the case but could not comment due to privacy concerns.
One of the men grabbed a gun and opened fire during Friday’s raid on the alleged crime den, injuring one officer who has been hospitalised, according to police.
Police then rounded up a cache of drugs and guns and discovered the bagged body parts of a man, described as a blond foreigner, inside a padlocked freezer on the ground floor.
“They are charged on five counts including attempting to kill an official on duty, resisting arrest, illegal possession of firearms and ammunition, forging official documents and concealing a corpse,” said Chanin Vachirapraneekul, commander of the police station in Bangkok’s Phra Khanong district where the men were taken.
The men, two of whom have grey hair according to photos published in local media, have denied all charges, police said.
A Burmese couple detained with the group told police they were hired to clean the building three times a week and ordered not to open or move the freezer where the dead body was found.
The couple have not been been charged with any crime and are being treated as witnesses, said Bangkok’s deputy police commander Suwat Jangyodsuk.
Forensic officers are working to identify the deceased and expect to have autopsy results on Sunday.
“As of now we suspect that they are a passport forgery gang,” Suwat said of the three men in custody.
“We seized more than ten fake documents, including passports,” he added.
Thailand has long served as a base for foreign criminals and fugitives lured by its porous borders, lax visa requirements and notoriously bribable police force.
A thriving forged documents trade has also helped shield countless crime syndicates that populate the kingdom’s vast underworld.
In February Thai police arrested an Iranian man known as “The Doctor” who crafted pristine passports from his home in a Bangkok suburb and sold the documents to thousands around the globe — including gangsters, rebels, refugees and migrant workers.