Thailand probes into missing oil-smuggling ships linked to police force

By VNA   June 20, 2024 | 05:13 pm PT
Thai authorities have launched a probe into a case involving three missing seized oil smuggling vessels after a leaked chat showed a connection between some police and oil smuggling gang, local media reported.

The Thai Coast Guard stopped the three ships containing 330,000 liters of smuggled oil on March 19 and arrested 28 crew members, charging them with smuggling. The crew members were later released on bail for 3 million THB (nearly US$82,000).

On June 12, the ships disappeared with 15 crew members. The vessels were recaptured with eight crew members near the maritime border with Malaysia on June 17. Almost all the 330,000 liters of diesel oil had been siphoned off.

According to Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, Deputy Commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB), an initial finding showed the vessels belonged to a network run by "Joe Namman Thue," also known as "Joe Pattani," a major oil smuggler in southern Thailand.

A Line chat was leaked to the media on June 19 which showed a conversation between marine police and Joe Pattani, said Jaroonkiat.

He went on to say that an initial finding showed the leaked chat between Joe Pattani and the police officer is genuine but the Crime Suppression Division (CSD) and the Anti-Corruption Division (ACD) need time to complete the investigation.

Jaroonkiat said that the case has sullied the reputation of the Royal Thai Police (RTP), adding that they will take decisive action against all those who did wrong, including police.

Pol Col Anek Taosuparb, deputy chief of the CSD, said that the eight crew members, who were on board the three ships when they were recaptured on June 17, have been flown to Bangkok to be interrogated at the CSD headquarters. An investigation is underway to determine whether they are linked to Joe Pattani, he added.

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