Australian arrested in southern Thailand on suspicion of international criminal activity

Royal Thai Armed Forces officers arrested an Australian national in the southern province of Nakhon Si Thammarat on suspicion of international criminal activity. Samuel James Norton Cook, 47, was arrested when his Toyota car was pulled over Monday evening in the Nai Muang sub-district.

Security forces officers cooperating with immigration officials and local police conducted a search of the vehicle and found Cook’s passport, with a visa that had been expired for more than a year. The Australian was also found in possession of a false driver’s license.

Officials say they have been watching Cook for some time, suspecting him of being involved in criminal activity involving illegal drug and entertainment businesses on the southern island of Phuket. It is alleged that he was also involved in recruiting Thai women for foreigners linked to an international criminal gang in Phuket.

An officer who arrested him said Cook rented a vehicle from a car rental shop in Phuket about 3 months ago after the shop allegedly provided him with a fake driver’s license. It is understood that the Australian then moved to Nakhon Si Thammarat, where he has stayed in 4 different hotels in the past 3 months. Cook reportedly spent most of the days in his room, going out in his car at night.

The Australian is initially being held for exceeding the length of his visa, as the wider investigation against him continues. Meanwhile, communicating through an interpreter, Cook says he was visiting Nakhon Si Thammarat on business.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai timetable

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