11 July 2024

Police will seek arrest warrants against those who they believe to be the “big fish” behind the disappearance of three oil-smuggling boats, which had been officially impounded and moored off Sattahip in Chon Buri province.

Pol Col Anek Taosuparb, deputy crime suppression police chief, said today that, among the potential suspects is Sahachai Jiansermsin, also known as “Joe Pattani”, who reportedly runs a lucrative racketeering network in the south.

The information, obtained from interviewing the crews of the two vessels still in custody, pointed directly to Sahachai, the colonel said.

The three missing oil-smuggling boats were among five apprehended by Economic Crime Division officers in March, along with their crews.

According to a report from Sattahip marine police, the officers in charge of the seized vessels allowed their skippers to move them away from the pier and to anchor at sea, about 100 meters from the coast, out of concern that they could be damaged by a storm that hit the district on June 11.

It wasn’t until the following morning that police discovered that all three vessels, with about 330,000 litres of fuel on board, had disappeared.

They were eventually detected floating in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone and were towed back to Songkhla province yesterday.

Eight of the 15 crew members and seven dogs on the boats were also detained.

Police inspected the boats today, to check the remaining oil in storage, with an initial report claiming that only a small amount was left on the vessels.

Police said that those who stole the boats had tried to change the colour of one boat.

As of today, no one has come forward to claim ownership of the vessels.