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Four Chinese arrested for smuggling fuel

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PHUKET: Phuket Marine Police yesterday arrested four Chinese sailors near Koh Hei after they were caught with 20,000 liters of illegal fuel on board, Pol Lt Col Prasert Srikunnarat told the Gazette.

“We were informed about 2 pm of an odd-looking boat about three miles from Chalong. We went there and found an old, unregistered boat flying orange cloth as a flag,” said Col Prasert.

Four Chinese men on board told Marine Police that the boat was for freezing fish, but after boarding the vessel police discovered fuel stored in barrels in the ship’s hull rather than any freezing equipment.

Marine Police escorted the boat to Phuket Deep Sea Port, where the Chinese sailors arrived about 4 pm and were taken to Phuket Immigration Office.

The four men were identified as Captain Li An, 36, Hoo Ping, 32, Li Kun, 44, and Lhoo Lee, 38.

“The suspects at first said that they had come from China to buy fish, but when asked about the fish, they were unable to give any information,” said Col Prasert.

The men were arrested for importing fuel without paying the required tariffs and for entering Thailand illegally, Col Prasert said.

“At first we thought the boat was very old, but the engines in it are new. This boat isn’t a normal fuel tanker – it could have sunk at any moment,” said Col Prasert.

“We don’t know exactly what the boat is for or why they are here. We need to investigate further to find the connection,” he added.

 

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