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Rambo Hunter's life of country clubs and killings ends on Phuket

Evil Empire of Phuket's Rambo Killer

Saturday, September 28, 2013
PHUKET: Details are beginning to emerge of the remarkable life led by a Phuket 'Rambo,' an evil international drugs overlord who didn't stop at killings, and apparently liked golf.

According to today's Daily Mirror in Britain, Joseph Manual Hunter dallied at the Phuket Country Club and Patong beach between forays of dealing in death and destruction around the region and beyond.

If the Drug Enforcement Administration officials can be believed, his evil empire stretched across continents from Thailand to America and Africa.

The flight that he took to New York in a chartered aircraft yesterday is likely to be repeated by his so-far mostly nameless cohorts, including British hit men.

All of the group are likely to make the same journey as soon as the courts in Thailand approve extradition.

Phuket attracts all kinds, as this week proved conclusively, with Rihanna and her tweets and selfies of slow lorises being forced off the front pages by Rambo Hunter.

The Daily Mail told us more, revealing that Hunter became a contract killer for drug cartels after 20 years of service and rising to Sergeant in the military.

How a person goes about assembling a group of international killers will doubtless be revealed in a story that officials are already saying comes ''straight from the pages of Tom Clancy.''

Hunter's family told NBC News he was mysterious about his international activities and they had no idea he had been arrested.

Charges against Hunter were were announced by prosecutors in Manhattan and they portrayed he and his accomplices as ex-soldiers eager to kill for money.

''That's fun, actually for me that's fun. I love this work,'' an ex-German soldier was quoted in court papers as saying.

Hunter served his country between 1983 and 2004 and then made the career move to contract killer. At one meeting, the Daily Mail relates, he was captured on tape describing how he had arranged the killings of real estate agents.

Precise details have yet to emerge, but it's not believed that any of these slayings were on Phuket. Killings too close to home could have been a giveaway.

According to the court papers, the Phuket arrests were the result of a DEA sting. Agents posing as Colombian drug lords offered 'Rambo' Hunter a contract to kill a fellow DEA agent and informer in Liberia for $800,000.

Did some of these conversations take place on Phuket? Most likely.

According to Associated Press, an attorney for the US government said:''The charges tell a tale of an international band of mercenary marksmen who enlisted their elite military training to serve as hired guns for evils ends.''

The DEA's sources promised Hunter at a March meeting in an Asian country that his security team would be protecting thousands of kilos of marijuana and would be seeing ''tons of cocaine and millions of dollars.''

Audio and video recordings of the meeting show Hunter discussing ''bonus jobs'' of contract killings, saying the men he had recruited want to do as much ''bonus'' work as possible, the indictment said.

When assassinations of a federal agent and an informant were proposed, Hunter ''didn't flinch at the chance,'' Bharara said.

He boasted that his men could handle both jobs, the prosecutor said, adding that ''from there, it was off to the races.''

The indictment said a DEA source posing as a drug trafficker in May proposed to the snipers that they kill a DEA agent and a boat captain providing information to US law enforcement authorities, saying it was necessary because there was a ''leak'' within the narcotics trafficking organisation.

In an email exchange, Hunter responded: ''My guys will handle it . . . Are you talking about both the captain and agent or just the captain?'' according to the indictment.

They ordered submachine guns, pistols, and sophisticated latex masks and shipped them to Africa in preparation for the hit.

But the DEA intercepted Gogel and Vamvakias in Africa before organising the arrest of Hunter this week.

Thai police said the DEA contacted Thai authorities several months ago to say that Hunter was believed to be hiding in Phuket, where he had rented a house.

Derek Maltz, special agent in charge of the DEA Special Operations Division, said the snipers were caught by agents dedicated to ''outwit them, outwork them, outsmart them and put them out of business.''

He added: ''As much as this indictment reads like the script of a movie, it's real.''

Hunter enlisted two men, German sniper Dennis 'Nico' Gogel and US Army veteran Timothy 'Tay' Vamvakias for a ''bonus job'' - a plot to murder the DEA agent and an informant in Liberia for $800,000.

Visas and plane tickets were obtained, a submachine gun and .22-caliber pistols were ordered, and sophisticated Hollywood-style latex face masks, which could make someone appear to be of another race, were shipped to Africa.

With Hunter ''quarterbacking'' the operation from Phuket, Gogel, 27, and Vamakias, 42, flew to Liberia earlier this week with plans to carry out the twin assassinations.

By then, the DEA ''had seen enough'' and took them down, the prosecutor said.

Vamvakias and Gogel were arrested in Liberia and quietly brought to Manhattan and presented in federal court on Thursday.

German-trained sniper Michael 'Paul' Filter, 29, and Slawomir 'Gerald' Soborski, 40, a Polish counterterrorism expert, were arrested in Estonia this week and will be extradited.

Hunter, busted on Phuket, is due in court on Saturday.

Reached by phone in his native Kentucky, Hunter's wife was stunned to learn of the charges against her husband.

''We don't know anything about what he does,'' she said. Hunter's stepson said they last heard from him a few days ago.

''Whenever he contacts us, he's in Thailand or the Philippines,'' he said. ''We don't know what he does. He never tells us anything.''


Comments have been disabled for this article.


Rihanna and Hunter, these are the types of quality tourists the island is seeking to attract?

Posted by Greg on September 29, 2013 02:02



Rihanna probably spent quite a lot more money than the average tourist while on holiday in Phuket. And is an internationally recognised celebrity. So, yes she is definitely a quality tourist.

Posted by christian on September 29, 2013 06:40


It's amazing that Mr. Hunter was not tipped off, if the thai authorities were indeed alerted several months ago.

Posted by fw on September 29, 2013 07:11


There it is again, "quality tourist". Still waiting on the definition of this absurd tag.

Posted by Sudo Nim on September 29, 2013 09:58


This will provide some timely plot fodder for the Hollywood movie makers since some of movies released in recent times have been similar to watching paint dry.
No doubt the 'Mission Impossible' movie department have been notified so the DEA can recoup the money spent from the sting covert operation.

Posted by Man of Steel on September 29, 2013 10:39

Wednesday October 27, 2021
Horizon Karon Beach Resort & Spa


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