Interview with a Foreign Undercover Police Informer in Thailand
Q. How does one get into being a police informer?
A. Firstly you have to join the local Tourist police, simply trying to sign up for the job is not going to get you anywhere, you don't ask to become a police informer either, you are chosen. What happens is you join the tourist police and show how you are able to deal with different situations, they feel you out, and over the the course of a year they will see if you have what it takes, you will get "tested" as well, taken on different jobs and the police watch you to see if you can do it. For most people who join the tourist police this is what they really want to do. 99% of people who sign up don't have what it takes.
Q. What does it take to be a police informer in Thailand?
Simply signing up to the tourist police is not going to guarantee you any work as an informer. You need the background, a police background is the most regarded so is military, someone with counter intelligence experience. If you think that undercover informers/agents in Thailand are pushovers think again, these are people with past experience in enforcement and know how to handle themselves. If you want to get to do the "backroom or upstairs work you also need a work visa". You also need language skills, if you don't speak Thai forget it, you need to report back with the information and most of the Thai police don't speak good English, so language plays the most important role.
Q. What kind of jobs do you get involved in, are they always targeting foreigners?
For the majority of work it's really just surveillance, it doesn't mean that were out there busting foreigners, most of the work involves Thai's who have set up some sort of criminal enterprise that targets foreigners, it may involve child prostitution, drugs, someone who is trying to sell illegal wares to farangs. See the Thai police can't gather their own intelligence since the operators are not willing to service Thai people (actually they think it's safer not to). So they use foreigners to gather the intelligence and report back to them. I'd say only a small majority of the cases involve foreigners who are doing illegal activities in Thailand. One job I did recently was bust a gang of Thai youths who were selling drugs to foreigners, one British man was at the scene and really was in the wrong place at the wrong time, he got busted as well
Q. What do you get paid to be a police informer in Thailand?
There's the kicker right there, we don't get paid anything, we get free lunches though when we go out on jobs and work, but it's not legal for them to pay us any money, it's not like a full time job or anything though. You don't say work a 9-5 job, guys like me who do this kind of work do it for their own reasons, either the excitement of it or basically something to kill the time. It's more of a passion for someone, if you've worked in the police or military before you'll understand what i'm talking about. We also have to pay for everything our selves as well, the uniforms the gadgets everything. Don't even think about being a police informer if you are looking to make money in Thailand.
Q. Do you get to use any cool equipment like spy cams or carry a gun?
i've politely refused though, I don't see the need, i'm there just to gather intelligence, once my job is done, the Thai police step in.
Q. How long have you been doing this for and will you do it for long?
I've been doing undercover work now for a few years, and I don't see why I would stop doing it anytime soon. I get to travel to jobs all over the country, the Thai police are wising up and starting to use us more and more to gather intelligence they simply can't get.
Q. How do you feel about other expats who think your a low life for doing this?
Whatever. I'm doing the right thing, there are endless criminals in Thailand. I've done work that has stopped international people smuggling of little kids, taken drugs of the street, and probably saved a lot of lives, those who think i'm a low life can think about that. Most expats out there think i'm trying to bust foreigners who own bars in Pattaya or what not but the truth is that most of the work I do saves lives. If they think i'm scum for doing that then they should look at themselves and ask how they are making Thailand a better and more safer place to live.
That was the extent of my interview with an undercover farang police informer in Thailand. He wasn't willing to give too much information out either about who he has busted and where he has done it, I got the impression that he wasn't happy about where the interview was going next and more worried about his bosses being OK with the interview, though I do feel he was right about making Thailand safer though I still don't see myself doing anything like that. What do you think?