Baby eels caught in a GNR raid in Leiria in 2019

Chinese triads and couple suspected of decapitating Thai masseuse elude Portuguese justice

Judicial authorities in Portugal are on the trail of four foreign suspects, all believed to have carried out gruesome killings in Portugal before fleeing the country.

A case splashed over tabloid Correio da Manhã today concerns the ‘execution’ in 2019 of a Chinese restaurateur near Setúbal, following problems in a racket exporting baby eels to China in specially-prepared suitcases.

The GNR foiled a number of these operations in early 2019, which almost certainly lead to the murder of 32-year-old Jun Jun Fang.

Fang is understood to have owed around €70,000 to a Chinese triad (criminal syndicate) operating the racket.

Due to the collapse of business as a result of the police raids, he was unable to make his repayments. 

He was taken from his home in Lisbon by ‘two hitmen’ in early May, ‘terrorised’ and then shot six times – five times in the mouth and once in the back.

Fang’s body – dumped close to a water treatment plant on the Sapec chemical compound in Setúbal – was unrecognisable. 

But after his wife filed a missing person’s report, police were able to make the connection with the body found near Setúbal. 

The wife was later able to identify her husband’s remains.

“Within record time”, PJ judicial police were on the trail of the assassins.

 Indeed, according to CM, the men both already had criminal records in this country: one, aged 49, had an arrest warrant pending, emitted by Oeiras county court, the other, aged 55, had been the target of an expulsion order from Portugal in 2009.

Both were using false identity papers.

Detectives were able to trace the pair to Madrid, where the Mercedes Vito they had rented before picking up Fang and driving him to his death was eventually found and submitted to forensic testing.

Evidence backing an international arrest warrant was seemingly water-tight – but that’s where the investigation hit a brick wall.

No-one in the Chinese community in Portugal was apparently prepared to talk, says CM. 

A number of fellow compatriots who knew the victim have since returned to China. 

“Everything rests on the hope of international cooperation”, says the paper that along with others covered authorities’ apprehensions of baby eels in 2019, easily foiling business deals worth a quarter of a million euros.

Baby eels (protected in Europe) are a speciality on the Asian market, reaching prices of around €10,000/ kg, or even more. Criminal groups involved in harvesting the eels used to load them live into specially-prepared suitcases which went into the hold of planes leaving for China. The racket made individuals ‘on the ground’ in Portugal as much as €300-€400 per kg.

Meantime, a similar brick wall has essentially halted the gruesome investigation into a decapitated Thai masseuse (click here).

Again tireless police work built-up a case – alleging that the masseuse was killed by her female boss and partner (again over a debt click here) – but the initial trial collapsed due to ‘lack of sufficient evidence’ (click here).

A new trial has been set for March this year – with a new panel of judges, and more ‘evidence’.

Witnesses were all set, said Observador late this year but in the meantime it has been reported that “Justice has lost all trace of the defendants” – 53-year-old Sangam Sawaiprakhon and her Pakistani partner Waseem Haider, 33, both of whom were released without any kind of bail or reporting conditions after being held pending the original trial in preventive custody.

[email protected]