Are Thai coastal resorts becoming the Costa del Crime of Southeast Asia

Published:  25 Jun at 6 PM
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British expats may well remember that, back in the day, Spain’s Costas were the destination of choice for the UK’s most-wanted criminals, including the infamous Great Train Robbers and various East End mafia dons.

Apparently, a dodgy UK passport and an offshore bank account stuffed with ill-gotten gains was all that was needed to escape being ‘banged up’ for at least several decades. The advent of modern technology and the European Union put paid to such shenanigans, with many notorious villains ending up with a forced holiday at Her Majesty’s pleasure.

A recent report from Thailand, a favourite retirement hub for many British citizens, seem to suggest that the self-styled Land of Smiles is unwittingly performing the same service as the Costas for a new class of bad boys – the Russian mafia. Complaints about the manners, or lack of them, displayed by Russian tourists are commonplace, but the arrest of a Russian Mafia leader in a well-known Thai resort earlier this week suggests a higher class of villain is becoming fond of Asia’s sea, sand and sunshine resorts.

Alexander Matusov, detained Wednesday in Chonburi by Bangkok immigration police, was wanted by the Russian authorities for his involvement since 1995 in dozens of murders and other gangland activities. His specialities were kidnapping and extortion, and continued until 2009 when he arrived in Thailand on what is commonly known as a ‘retirement visa’.

According to Police General Wut Liptapanlop, Matusov’s Russian arrest warrant cited the four murders of members of a rival gang in 1996. A member of the Russian diplomatic corps in Bangkok, Alexey Falunin, told the media that Matusov’s detention was of significant importance to Russia as he and his gand were implicated in ‘a lot of killings’.
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