Cockfight Loss Leads to Murder Charges in Thailand, Suspect on the Run

Posted on: October 10, 2023, 08:10h. 

Last updated on: October 10, 2023, 12:18h.

In an unexpected turn of events on Monday at a licensed cockfighting ring in Thailand, a dispute over a wager took a deadly turn. That resulted in the death of one of the participants. Police are now looking for the gunman, and although they know his identity, where he lives, and the type of car he drives, they haven’t caught up with him yet.

Two roosters participate in a cockfight
Two roosters participate in a cockfight. A fight in Thailand turned deadly after a man lost and shot his opponent in cold blood. (Image: Illinois Times)

The incident occurred after Pirun Yotkuea emerged victorious in a cockfight, leading to the violent confrontation with his opponent, Ben Lao-ngam. Media outlet Thaiger reported on the incident, explaining that Ben lost THB100,000 (US$2,725) to Pirun, and reportedly resorted to extreme measures in response to his defeat.

Following the heated confrontation, Ben allegedly shot Pirun, causing fatal injuries. He then took off in his SUV, a black Toyota Fortuner, and hasn’t been seen since.

Cockfight Chaos

The cockfight, which took place at a licensed venue, has prompted authorities to take swift action. In response to the incident, the police have revoked the permits of the cockfighting ring, highlighting the potential dangers associated with such events.

Law enforcement agencies in Thailand are actively engaged in the search for Ben to bring him to justice. The incident has sparked discussions about the regulation and oversight of licensed cockfighting events, with calls for increased scrutiny to prevent such violent confrontations in the future.

The incident has also raised questions about the safety and security measures in place at licensed cockfighting venues. Authorities are likely to reevaluate the licensing and monitoring of such events to prevent similar tragedies in the future.

Ben reportedly used a firearm for which he holds a permit, and there are reportedly no measures in place that prohibit the introduction of firearms to cockfighting rings. Thailand only reinstated the fights this past February after a years-long hiatus because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A Way of Life

Cockfighting has been a legal and culturally ingrained tradition in Thailand, with licensed venues hosting these events for enthusiasts. The sport, deeply rooted in the country’s heritage, has generated a significant economic impact.

It draws revenue from various sources, including spectator attendance, concessions, and notably, the substantial sums wagered during these matches. Reports suggest the betting aspect of cockfights annually contributes millions of Thai baht to the local economy, with estimates reaching up to THB2 billion (US$54.5 million) or more in recent years.

The substantial amounts of money involved in wagers have come under particular scrutiny. Lawmakers are contemplating amendments to existing regulations, and are considering the implementation of stricter controls on betting amounts to mitigate the potential for violence and disputes.

Additionally, there are discussions about introducing enhanced monitoring mechanisms for financial transactions related to cockfight gambling. That’s intended to ensure transparency and curb illicit activities within the industry. The reintroduction of cockfighting, as well as bullfighting and other bloodsports, has been seen as a way to boost Thailand’s tourism and increase revenue for charities.