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Oil slick caper: CIB tracks stolen tankers to Malaysia waters

Photo via Facebook/ พัชรพล ปานรักษ์

Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) officers successfully located three oil tankers stolen from a Thai Marine Police (TMP) dock in Chon Buri and subsequently found in Malaysia. Eight crew members are missing, and a quantity of petrol has reportedly vanished.

Five oil tankers were seized by illegal petrol smugglers on March 19 and berthed at TMP dock in the Sattahip district of Chon Buri, waiting for an oil auction. Three of them were filled with about 330,000 litres of diesel, while the other two were empty.

TMP officers discovered the disappearance of three tankers full of oil in the morning on June 12 and reported the matter to Sattahip Police Station before the case was transferred to the CIB.

Initially, officers suspected the vessels had travelled to neighbouring Cambodia, but Cambodian officials confirmed this was not the case. The CIB police finally located the stolen tankers in Malaysian waters on June 16.

According to Channel 8, the eight crew members from the three ships are missing, and a quantity of oil has disappeared, although the exact amount remains unknown.

Officers reported that the tankers would be transferred to the southern province of Songkhla for further investigation. The escape route is believed to have been through Cambodia, Vietnam, the Gulf of Thailand, and then Malaysia.

Police also confirmed that all three tankers were owned by leading oil smuggler, Joe Pattani, suggesting his involvement in the theft.

Following the incident, four TMP officers were temporarily transferred to the CIB office on June 13 due to their mistakes in this theft case.

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CIB police will hold a press conference on today, June 17, to reveal details of the operation and any arrests to the public.

The theft of the tankers sparked suspicions of corruption among TMP officials, with many questioning how the ships could have been moved from the dock without police involvement.

Subsequently, a video surfaced featuring a Thai crew member from the vessels alleging that police had demanded 30 million baht from his employer to secure the return of the tankers and fuel. This demand was later lowered to 1 million baht per tanker.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, Jaroonkiat Parnkaew, promised to investigate the claim and ensure justice for both the TMP officers and the crew members.

 

ORIGINAL STORY: Oily trouble: Thieves swipe 330,000 litres from Thai police dock

Illegal oil smugglers stole three tankers carrying about 330,000 litres of diesel from the Thai Marine Police (TMP) dock in the Sattahip district of Chon Buri on Tuesday night.

TMP officers filed a complaint with Sattahip Police Station in the early hours of June 12 after three out of five oil tankers disappeared from their parking spots. The relevant authorities attempted to track down the tankers via water and air but were unable to identify their locations.

These five oil vessels were seized from an oil smuggling gang on March 19. The ships were parked at the dock, awaiting auction by the Customs Department for the approximately 330,000 litres of diesel in three of the five tankers. Officers believed that each of the oil tankers had a separate owner.

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While awaiting the auction, TMP officers allowed the owners and their crew to return to each vessel to carry out maintenance, preventing them from sinking. Police officers were assigned to oversee each vessel and ensure their control.

According to the TMP, officers were alerted about the strong waves since June 9. The rough waves posed a risk of friction between the tankers and the pier, potentially leading to a spark due to the oil inside the vessels, escalating into a fire or explosion.

Leading oil smuggler suspected

For safety reasons, an undisclosed police inspector decided to relocate each tanker to anchor in the middle of the sea, approximately 100 meters away from the pier, on June 11. Police officers observed each vessel’s lights being turned on at 8pm and they were switched off around 10pm that night.

However, when the police checked the tankers again in the morning, three of them were missing. The estimated damage amounted to about 10 million baht.

TMP Commander Prutthipong Nuchanart reported that the theft was suspected to have been carried out by a prominent oil smuggler known as Jo Illegal Oil or Jo Pattani. Prutthipong suspected that the tankers may be in the waters of Thailand’s neighbouring country.

The Deputy Commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, Jaroonkiat Parnkaew, admitted during an interview with Channel 3 that he was very angry because this theft should not have occurred under the authorities’ noses.

Jaroonkiat further explained that arresting illegal oil smugglers proved challenging, and it took a day to transport the oil tankers from the scene of the arrest to the TMP dock. However, the police lost track of them. Jaroonkiat stated that the inspector, along with other officers on patrol duty, must take responsibility for this theft.

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