Thai police returned 69 luxury vehicles to Taiwan this week following raids on warehouses and parking lots in Bangkok that turned up a sophisticated racket that reportedly smuggled stolen vehicles into Cambodia, regional media reported.
The stolen cars—including Toyota, Mitsubishi, Nissan, Suzuki and Mercedes Benz models—arrived back in Taiwan on Tuesday, the China Post newspaper reported. Discovered in December, the vehicles were being prepared for resale in Cambodia when Bangkok police pounced. Nine suspects have been arrested in Taiwan, the Post added.
Stolen vehicles from Thailand have been smuggled into Cambodia for years, but the links with Taiwan are a new development, said Uy Sokal of the Municipal Economic Police department.
Police will investigate, Uy Sokal said, but added that identifying stolen vehicles from legitimate vehicles is a difficult task.
“It is very hard to check them out because in Phnom Penh they can drive all sort of cars and it is very hard to set up checkpoints to conduct searches,” Uy Sokal said.
In the past five months, Municipal Economic Police have seized seven smuggled vehicles. However, that figure was small compared with the reported number of smuggled vehicles, he added. An alleged Taiwanese crime boss with links to Cambodia was also deported back to Taipei last week.
Wu Tongtan, 52, the alleged crime boss of the Sun Society gang under the Heaven’s Way Alliance, was arrested in China’s Guangdong province and deported to Taiwan Monday, China’s official news service Xinhua reported.
Wanted on suspicion of organized crime, Wu fled Taiwan in 1996 and eventually wound up in Cambodia where “he remotely directed the crimes committed by his underlings in Taiwan,” Xinhua reported.
In December, Taiwanese police issued an arrest warrant for an alleged gunman nicknamed “Ah Tai” whom they said also had links to Cambodia.
Ah Tai was a member of the Sun Society gang and was preparing for a hit on a Taipei City Councilor “had been to Cambodia three times to receive training as an assassin,” the China Post quoted police as saying.
Two months earlier, Taiwanese police arrested 17 alleged members of the Heaven’s Way Alliance on charges of smashing up the Taiwan offices of a Hong Kong-based magazine.
The gang’s reputed leader had sent a letter from Cambodia, where he reportedly was living, to Taiwanese media hinting that his group was responsible for the attack.