Diesel smugglers arrested

PHUKET: Four Thais were arrested on Saturday evening on charges of smuggling untaxed fuel into Thailand, and 60,000 liters of low-grade diesel, worth about 180,000 baht, was seized from their vessel, the Look Kob. The vessel was also impounded. Pol Col Surapol Tuanthong, Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Thai Marine Police, said that the modified fishing vessel was stopped near Koh Ba-Ngoo, 10 nautical miles northwest of the Similan Islands. As has been the case in other such incidents in the Andaman Sea, the Look Kob was ferrying smuggled fuel from a tanker anchored outside Thai territorial waters to fishing boats inside Thai waters. Col Surapol added that books aboard the Look Kob showed it had transported about 1,600,000 liters of fuel, worth 4.8 million baht, in the past month alone. The marine police had tried a number of times to catch the vessel, Col Surapol said, but each time the smugglers had managed to escape into international waters. “We took the opportunity [during Songkran] to surprise them when they didn’t think we would be looking, and they got too close,” he said. The four men were charged with fuel tax evasion and with the illegal use of walkie-talkies. They are currently in detention awaiting trial. So far this year, the marine police have stopped four smuggling vessels in the Andaman Sea. About 400,000 liters of illegal diesel have been seized.

Phuket News

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