Thai police arrest trader who allegedly hoarded more than 40,000 face masks

Thai police arrested a trader who allegedly hoarded more than 40,000 face masks to sell at an inflated price.

Undercover officers were tipped off about the overpriced COVID-19 face masks and arranged an order as part of a sting operation in Chiang Mai, northern Thailand on Monday (March 23) night .

Price controls on face masks were introduced earlier this month to protect anyone from profiting from the items, which are in demand due to the coronavirus health emergency.

Officers arrested two sellers, Prapornpong Kititan, 20, and Lawan Thammasarat, 37, at the meeting point and confiscated 750 face masks that they were selling at a wholesale price of 14THB (36GBX) each.

The sellers reportedly told the police that they received the masks from a supplier who had a large stock of them.

The police then set up another sting and arranged to buy 20,000 face masks from Tawich Wongprasert, 47, at a warehouse.

Officers arrested him and allegedly found another 20,000 face masks that he had kept in storage.

They confiscated 40,000 face masks which cost 285,000THB (7,435 GBP) and remanded the seller in custody. The wholesale price he was selling them for was 7.12 baht - almost three times the legal price cap of 2.5 baht.

The director of the provincial ministry of commerce, Prasert Faichawna, said: "After we received information about this man from the two sellers who were arrested earlier we believed he had a big stock, more than he had offered to us.

"So we came here with a search warrant and fortunately we were right about his hoarding."

The police arrested Tawich on suspiciono of selling an overpriced controlled product.