Missing contraband diesel vessels found near Malaysian waters

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Picture courtesy of Bangkok Post

Three vessels carrying 330,000 litres of contraband diesel that vanished from a police pier in Chon Buri have been located near Malaysian waters, police confirmed.

Police Major General Charoonkiat Pankaew, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, announced that the three boats disappeared from the marine police pier in Sattahip district of Chon Buri last week. After travelling through Cambodian and Vietnamese waters, they were found off southern Thailand.

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Thai police coordinated with neighbouring countries to pressure those on the vessels to surrender. “We receive good cooperation and the possible outcome is positive,” Pol. Maj. Gen. Charoonkiat stated.

The deputy commissioner emphasised that police are committed to tracking down the vessels, expressing intolerance for theft from the marine police unit in Chon Buri.

Police officers responsible for the disappearance face charges of dereliction of duty, causing significant damage to the government, according to Pol. Maj. Gen. Charoonkiat.

Marine police commander Pritthipong Nuchanart stated that marine police are handling the case. Reports suggesting the vessels were in Cambodian waters remain unverified, but there are indications they could be in the high seas near Malaysia.

Pritthipong noted that the contraband oil aboard the vessels had a market price of approximately 3 million baht (US$ 82,000) or 10 to 12 baht (US$ 0.2 to 0.3) per litre, so its total value isn’t substantial. He doubted the thieves would transfer the oil to other ships, given that each vessel was valued at around 5 million baht (US$ 136,000). “It would be unfeasible to steal the oil and discard the ships.”

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The local marine police station in Sattahip reported at 6am on June 5 that three of the five modified fishing boats confiscated in an oil smuggling case had disappeared. These boats had been moored in a safe area about 100 metres from the marine police pier.

The missing boats are the J.P. with 80,000 litres of contraband oil and seven crew members; the Seahorse with 150,000 litres of untaxed oil and six crew; and the Daorung with 100,000 litres of untaxed oil and five crew.

Police revealed today that, storms and strong winds hit Sattahip, making it unsafe for the pier to accommodate the five confiscated vessels. Consequently, marine police ordered all five to be anchored about 100 metres from the pier, reported Bangkok Post.

All five vessels at the Sattahip pier had previously been confiscated in connection with oil smuggling.

South Thailand NewsThailand News

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