SRIRACHA, Thailand – Authorities in Chonburi Province successfully dismantled a fake monk gang operating in the picturesque Sriracha mountains. The gang was accused of deceiving villagers and collecting funds by posing as representatives of a specific temple for religious purposes.
The operation was initiated following complaints from local residents about the establishment of a counterfeit monastery in the region. Undercover immigration officers closely monitored the suspicious activities of the individuals involved and gathered crucial information before charging the suspects.
The investigative team executed a raid on November 30 and apprehended four Cambodian nationals dressed as monks. The first suspect was arrested in the Suphalerk market in Surasak Sub-district, Sriracha District, who led the officers up to the hideaway on the hill where three more were found.
Upon verification, authorities discovered that the individuals had been residing in Thailand without proper documentation for a period ranging from 2 to 10 years. Charges were subsequently filed against them for being foreign nationals residing in Thailand without proper authorization and for impersonating Buddhist monks to exploit the local community.
Following the initial arrests, the investigation revealed that additional suspects were still hiding in the mountains, prompting a comprehensive search operation. Collaborating with local residents, the authorities arrested four more individuals and transported them to a local temple for further verification. Officers also learned that there were about 10 more of them hiding on the hill.
The operation not only aimed to curb criminal activities involving foreigners residing in Thailand but also sought to address misunderstandings among locals who were misled during religious activities. Authorities emphasized their commitment to safeguarding the community and urged the public to report any suspicious activities through the emergency hotline, 1178.