11 July 2024

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) has ordered the formation of a committee to investigate the disappearance of three vessels, reportedly loaded with about 330,000 litres of smuggled oil, from the pier of the marine police in Sattahip district of Chon Buri.

The vessels, belonging to a major oil smuggler in southern Thailand, known as “Jo Pattani”, were apprehended by Economic Crime Division officers in March, along with their crews. The vessels had been moored at the pier in Sattahip since March 17th.

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 in the sea, about 100 metres from the coast, out of concerns that the vessels could be damaged by a storm which hit the district on Tuesday night.

Lights were switched on, so the vessels could be seen from the shore, until at about 10pm when they were switched off. It wasn’t until Wednesday morning that marine police discovered that all three vessels had disappeared.

An extensive air and search of the Gulf was launched yesterday, covering Chon Buri, Rayong, Chanthaburi and Trat provinces, but the vessels could not be located and are believed to have taken refuge in Cambodia.

Pol Maj-Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, the CIB’s deputy commissioner, is due to visit the Sattahip marine police pier today to oversee the investigation.