11 July 2024

Police have found the three missing oil smuggling boats floating in Malaysia’s exclusive economic zone and will escort them back to Thailand’s southern province of Songkhla, according to the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB).

The three vessels, with about 330,000 litres of fuel on board, disappeared from a marine police pier in Sattahip on June 12th, along with 18 crew members. Four marine police officers in Sattahip have been transferred to the CIB’s operations command pending the outcome of an investigation.

The CIB had sought cooperation from police in Cambodia, Malaysia and Vietnam in the search for the vessels and they were sighted today in Malaysia’s EEZ, close to open water. Thai marine police boats were quickly dispatched to investigate.

Pol Maj-Gen Charoonkiat Pankaew, CIB deputy commissioner, said that the three vessels, reportedly belonging to “Jo Pattani”, a major oil smuggler in the southern provinces, initially headed for Cambodian waters, after leaving the Sattahip pier on June  12th, and then changed direction towards southern Thailand.

He said he expects all three vessels to be escorted back into Thai waters off Songkhla province by Wednesday.