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Ricardo Chain Pon Choosaneh . . . believed to be on Phuket

Phuket City Arrest: FBI Fly American Dad, Girl Home

Wednesday, June 9, 2010
AN AMERICAN man has been arrested on the holiday island of Phuket and is now being escorted back to the US by FBI agents in a case involving custody of his five-year-old daughter.

Thai Immigration police arrested Samuel Lee Horton, 38, in Sam Kong, a suburb of Phuket City, on Monday, Phuketwan was told today.

The Superintendent of Phuket Immigration, Colonel Panuwat Ruamrak, said Immigration officers acted after receiving a letter from US officials. The arrested father was handed over to FBI agents and is now flying back to Los Angeles, where he is expected to arrive on Wednesday evening.

''We do what we can when international requests are made,'' Colonel Panuwat said. A spokesman for the US Embassy said that the US and Thailand had ''a long history of successful law enforcement cooperation.''

Parental kidnapping is a growing concern internationally. Thai officials at the Attorney General's International Affairs department have recently been asked by the Justice Department of the Netherlands to help locate and return a Phuket-born boy, Ricardo Chain Pon Choosaneh, 8, who is believed to be on Phuket with his biological mother, Sumetra Choosaneh, 41.

Phuketwan has been told that the boy's father, Michael Roland van Alphen, 39, allowed Khun Sumetra access to her son in the Dutch city of Delft. The mother and son disappeared and are believed to have caught a flight to Thailand from France in May, even though Mr van Alphen held both their passports.

In the US case, investigators said Mr Horton was charged by the Sheriff's Office in Gennville County, South Carolina, with violating a custody order involving his child on May 5, 2009.

Investigators learned that Horton had taken the child out of the country and a federal warrant for his arrest for unlawful flight to avoid prosecution was issued.

Local media reports in South Carolina say that further investigation into the matter led to the issuance of a federal grand jury indictment for fraud in connection with a passport secured for the child. Mr Horton faces a sentence of up to 10 years imprisonment if convicted.

FBI Special Agent Lisa Quillen was singled out for praise in her efforts in locating Mr Horton and ensuring the safe return of the child.

In Bangkok this afternoon, Immigration chiefs are to open a new Transnational Crime Arrest centre. Signage is also already in place at Phuket Immigration and a Transnational Crime Arrest centre on Phuket will open soon.

The Phuket centre is expected to speed the transfer of information to local authorities from Interpol, the FBI and all international agencies.

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