Rayong police commander removed over gambling-related COVID-19 outbreak
The provincial police chief of Thailand’s eastern province of Rayong has been removed from his post and transferred to work at the operations centre of the Royal Thai Police, known as a graveyard for police officers under investigation for alleged misconduct or gross negligence of duty.
The abrupt transfer of Pol Maj-Gen Papatdet Katephan was ordered by the national police chief, Pol Gen Suwat Chaengyodsuk, after 85 people in the province were found to be infected with COVID-19, a cluster of infections linked to an illegal gambling den.
The same order also assigned Pol Maj-Gen Mana Inpitak, deputy commissioner of Region 2 Provincial Police Bureau, to take over from Pol Maj-Gen Papatdet, in an acting capacity, until a permanent replacement is appointed.
The police chief also ordered the police inspector-general, Pol Gen Wissanu Prasartthong-osot, to investigate any illegal gambling dens in the province and to report back to the police chief within three days.
Earlier, Pol Maj-Gen Papatdet had claimed that there were no permanent illegal gambling dens in the province, adding that only seven people, linked to illegal gambling, were infected and that it could be a small gambling group which changes location regularly to avoid police detection.