Air force NCO ‘admits’ arms trading
An air force serviceman apprehended on Saturday with a cache of weapons has admitted trying to traffic the arms to ethnic minorities in Myanmar, police say.
Flight Sergeant 1st class (FS 1) Phakhin Detsomphong, attached to Wing 2 in Lop Buri province, was found carrying a large number of AK rifles, machine guns and more than 100 bullets after his pickup truck crashed on Sukhumvit Road in Trat’s Muang district on Saturday.
He also serves as an intelligence officer for the Internal Security Operations Command (Isoc).
Speaking after questioning FS 1 Phakhin, deputy national police chief Pol Gen Srivara Ransibrahmanakul, said the suspect admitted buying the weapons from a unidentified Cambodian.
He said FS 1 Phakhin said the weapons were intended to be sold to ethnic minorities in Myanmar. The suspect admitted to being an arms dealer and was acting alone, Pol Gen Srivara said.
The suspect said no political motives were involved in the weapon trafficking and he had trafficked weapons a couple of times before, the deputy police chief said.
His vehicle’s licence plate, bearing a police symbol, was bought from Saphan Lek market in Bangkok, he said.
Police also apprehended a Thai man and a Cambodian on suspicion they were involved in the arms trade, but FS 1 Phakhin insisted they were not involved, Pol Gen Srivara said.
Meanwhile, army chief Chalermchai Sitthisat has instructed investigators to expedite probes into the recent discovery of war weapons seized from the air force serviceman as well as from a courier service firm.
Gen Chalermchai was speaking as he chaired a meeting of the Secretariat Office of the the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO), of which he is the secretarygeneral, at the Royal Thai Army headquarters yesterday.
In addition to FS 1 Phakhin’s case, police on Friday seized six M67 grenades, two M26 grenades and 100 bullets found in three parcels handled by Kerry Express at its delivery centre in Bang Khen district.
Gen Chalermchai told the meeting that offenders are trying to use different approaches to smuggling weapons to avoid being caught, NCPO deputy spokeswoman Sirichan Ngathong said. The two cases indicated there is still an active illegal arms trade in the country, she said.