PHUKET TOWN: Phuket’s top law enforcement official says that road checkpoints and surprise home searches are now being used in an all-out effort to rid the island of its remaining illegal firearms, now that the December 15 deadline for the amnesty on handing unregistered weapons to the government has passed. Phuket Provincial Police Commander Maj Gen Veerayuth Sittimalic told the Gazette today that the checkpoints will be set up on roads twice daily, from midnight to 2 am and from 6 pm to 8 pm. “We know who is likely still to have guns and which cars to search,” he said. Gen Veerayuth said that intelligence was also a key, and that he had established an information network with himself at the center. Tip-offs will lead to home searches, he said, and any illegal weapons will be seized and their owners prosecuted. The home searches will also be used to update the police database of registered firearms. “Registration papers must be shown to us, then recorded. If registered weapons are found to have gone missing, the licenses for them will be revoked,” said Gen Veerayuth. In addition, registered guns will be fired and the bullets and spent casings kept by police to aid ballistics tests related to future shooting incidents. “We will have an island-wide crackdown twice monthly,” he said, adding that foreign residents and even short-term tourists would be liable to searches – as would rich and powerful Thais. “We will not defer to anyone, even if we know who they are. We will never achieve a gun-free Phuket if we think this way,” he said. The initial crackdown period, now underway, will continue throughout the holiday period and end January 4.
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