PHUKET: Former Central Investigation Bureau Chief Pongpat Chayapan amassed billions of baht from corruption and may be the person who can now most easily explain how Thailand's human trafficking networks function without being exposed and crushed.
All trails lead to the major general, his deputy and 10 others arrested in the past few days in what has to be the most extraordinary example of police corruption in modern Thai history.
Given the extent of Major General Pongpat's control over 11 major police bureaus, it seems inconceivable that he and his cohorts would extract large fortunes from illicit fuel sales, the purchase of high positions in government and gambling yet ignore the vast sums to be made from the trade in people through Thailand.
Speculative it must be at this early stage, but it's worth noting that among the squads under Major General Pongpat's command were the Anti-Human Trafficking Bureau, Marine Police, the Highway Police and the Counter Corruption Division.
If ever a man had the means to oversee the movement of hundreds of people from the Andaman Sea to secret camps in the jungles of southern Thailand, the former CIB chief did.
Only some information about the fortune amassed illegally by the network was revealed today in a televised briefing about the case by National Police Chief Somyot Pumpunmuang and top officers.
Art treasures hidden behind walls, large safes covered over by concrete, a mysterious suicide by an officer after two days giving evidence . . . much more is bound to be revealed about the police powerbroker they nicknamed ''the Gik.''
More details will come as the investigation broadens. The police chief said much more has yet to be exposed, and that more arrests are predicted.
Yet it's difficult to imagine a confessed corrupt CIB chief with his finger in so many pies not having both thumbs in the massive human trafficking system that covertly processes thousands of Rohingya and Bangladeshis through Thailand to Malaysia.
Even if he left that particular role to others, it's likely he knows who they are.
Will Thailand's human trafficking trail now be exposed by the police? Chances seem to be quite strong.
It was plain, National Police Chief Somyot said today, that the CIB powerbroker had been ''breaking the law for a long time already.''
''It doesn't matter how big they are,'' General Somyot said, ''if they are acting against the law, we have to arrest them.
''We have to set moral standards for Thai society.''