The heavily damaged pickup truck driven by Flt Sgt Pakhin Detphong rests in a ditch off Sukhumvit Highway in Muang district of Trat on Saturday morning. (Photo by Jakkrit Waewkraihong)
TRAT: A routine traffic accident investigation has led to the surprising discovery of 30 rifles, along with grenades and ammunition, in the pickup truck of an air force officer near the Cambodian border.
The officer is in custody and a Cambodian man who was approaching in a vehicle from a nearby border checkpoint is also being questioned.
The incident began when a black Isuzu pickup with military plates slipped off a curve on a section of the Sukhumvit Highway under construction in Ban Khlong Son of tambon Laem Klad in Muang district of Trat at around 10am Saturday.
It was raining at the time, and local residents and naval paramilitary rangers rushed to help the slightly injured driver from the badly damaged vehicle.
They were stunned to find about 30 AK rifles and hundreds of bullets and grenades to be used with launchers inside the vehicle. The driver was identified as Flt Sgt Pakhin Detphong of Wing 2 from Lop Buri, attached to the Internal Security Operations Command in Bangkok.
Authorities brought him to a naval paramilitary unit in Khlong Yai district for interrogation.
A Cambodian man was arrested nearby as he drove a Cambodia-registered Toyota Land Cruiser through a border checkpoint at Ban Hat Lek in Khlong Yai. He is being questioned at the same naval paramilitary unit.
Capt Samoraphum Jantho, commander of a marine unit in Trat, said the flight sergeant refused to make a statement about the weapons and authorities had yet to find out what his destination was.
He also said that the Cambodian man was involved in the case and that authorities in Bangkok would elaborate after further questioning of the suspects.
The case is the latest of innumerable incidents that expose what appears to be lax security at Thai military facilities where weapons are stored.
In another case that came to light this week, a Bangkok-based army sergeant is believed to have as part of a ring that sold them and had them delivered by courier services.
Paramilitary rangers display the seized weapons at their unit in Trat on Saturday.