DANOK - Once the domain of Thai triads, Malaysian gangs are believed to have muscled in to turn a portion of the town into their own turf.
The New Straits Times recently spent three days at the border town and were told that these businessmen were running pubs, massage parlours and safe havens for criminals fleeing Malaysian authorities.
Safety in numbers seems to be the order of the day, as these outlets were usually next to each other.
There were many lookouts, many of them heavily tattooed but light on their feet as they zoomed through the streets on motorcycles.
A source familiar with the underworld here said some Malaysian gangs were working with local gangs to run their businesses.
"The local underworld gets a cut. Business is thriving so much. You can see for yourself how fast Danok has developed in the last five years."
Until recently, Danok used to be littered with small budget hotels built with wood and zinc. Today, a guest is spoiled for choice with the many fairly big hotels. Rates are low, with accommodation at a "high-end" hotel going for less than RM100 a night.
Some throw in breakfast, while some have the convenience of go-go bars, karaoke and massage parlours just outside the hotel's doors. There are also hotels that entice guests by supplying free adult channels.
Enter a hotel and pimps, each taking care of his territory, would jostle for a guest's money by offering massage and sex services.