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Weekend Club Raids, Violation of Midnight Closing Scuttle Hopes of CCSA Extending Bar Hours

Meth, ecstasy and ketamine are scattered across the floor after a raid at the 77 Society Pub.
Meth, ecstasy and ketamine are scattered across the floor after a raid at the 77 Society Pub.

Thailand is unlikely to extend operating hours for nightlife venues this week following widespread violation of legal closing times and two weekend drug raids at Bangkok nightclubs.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha told provincial administrators and police before the weekend to clamp down on entertainment venues flouting the midnight closing time – usually the blessing of a corrupt Royal Thai Police force happy to take bribes for staying open later.

Government spokeswoman Traisulee Traisoranakul said Prayut heard many complaints about late-night clubbing and fears among Thais that it will spark new Covid-19 clusters.

Prayut ordered police to work with provincial and local administration officials to tighten enforcement of closing hours. That, of course, would take money out of the pockets of corrupt cops taking thousands of baht a week from venues they turn a blind eye to.

She said Prayut demanded the police cooperation with after-hours clubbing stop, threatening bent police with disciplinary and criminal action.

The result was raids on two Bangkok after-hours clubs popular mostly with Thais – Vampire and 77 Society – resulting in a large number of drug arrests and seizures.

Vampire, which is visited by foreign tourists and expats due its popularity among prostitutes, was hit after midnight Friday by Provincial Administration Department officials and Pathumwan police. Packets of narcotics were found on the club’s floor

Vampire in the Rong Muang area has been operating until past 4 a.m. for months, certainly with the knowledge and paid assistance from the same Pathumwan police who this weekend bit the hand that feeds them.

Following that raid, five senior Pathumwan officers, including the police chief, were suspended pending investigation.

Around 2 a.m. Sunday morning, Youth and Women Welfare Center officers raided 77 Society Pub in Bangkok’s Bang Khun Thian District, were 195 people were still partying.

All the patrons were subjected to urine tests with 26 men and 37 women testing positive for illicit drugs. Three packets of ketamine also were found on two customers. Police said that they found 41 packets of ketamine, 12 of crystal methamphetamine and 20 tablets of scattered on the floor.

The owner of the Tha Kham Road nightspot, Khomsan Dangchum, was arrested on multiple charges, including operating without a license, selling alcohol after hours, violation of the emergency decree, illegal association, defying the order of the Bangkok communicable disease committee, not complying with health safety measures and allowing trading of narcotics on the premises.

The raids likely put a stake through the heart of bar owners pleading for a return to normal business hours.

The Center for Covid-19 Situation Administration on Friday was scheduled to vote on a proposal to allow entertainment venues to remain open – legally – until 2 a.m. but Prayut was said to be angry about the midnight closing time not being enforced and is loathe to extend it further.