AFTER the crackdown on drug dealers, Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra has set his sights on the Thai Mafia – the powerful local gangs that control much of the underground economy.
Attributing the existence of such gangs and corrupt officials to lax enforcement of the laws, Thaksin said he would set up a high-level committee to act firmly against people and officials who work in cahoots in illegal businesses.
“There are a lot of Mafia-like groups in Thailand. I can’t tolerate this,” Thaksin said last week, adding that the only way to root out poverty in Thailand was to eliminate gangs and punish the influential people who run these rackets.
“Our actions will also target government officials who give them support,” he said.
Thaksin said influential gangs were connected to corrupt civil servants, mostly police and military officers whose vested interests ranged from public work contracts, advertising billboards and motorcycle taxis.
The war on the Thai Mafia is expected to focus on six groups: hired killers, human traffickers, vice syndicates, gunrunners, illegal casino operators and smuggling syndicates.
Defence Minister Gen Thammarak Isarangkura na Ayudyaha has warned officers against being involved in businesses such as the running of motorcycle taxis.
Besides the lucrative motorcycle tax trade, many soldiers and policemen in Thailand are in the “protection” business, acting as bouncers in entertainment outlets or provide part-time guard services.
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