Phuket taxi mafia probe targets Kamala, Rawai

PHUKET: The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has revealed that the next two areas to be investigated for alleged taxi mafia activity are the Phuket beachside communities of Rawai and Kamala.

The move has already received the support of Phuket Vice Governor Chamroen Tipayapongtada, who has ordered the investigations to be carried out without further delay.

Lt Col Somboon Sarasit, head of the DSI’s Bureau of Special Crime Unit 3, delivered the news at a meeting at Provincial Hall on Tuesday.

The first people to be targeted in the investigation are illegal taxi drivers at the taxi stand in front of the Novotel Phuket Kamala.

“We received a complaint from an Australian who bought a tour package that included taxi transfers,” Col Somboon said.

“But when a taxi came to pick him up at the hotel, five men blocked the car and threatened to attack the driver if he persisted in his attempt to pick him up,” he explained.

The DSI has a witness who has corroborated the complaint of the Australian tourist, saying that he saw the five men blocking the taxi driver from coming into the hotel, he added.

The five illegal drivers work for a co-operative headed by Anake Salakom, a councilor of the Kamala Tambon Administrative Organization (OrBorTor), Col Somboon alleged.

The investigation into reports of violent intimidation by taxi drivers at hotels and resorts in Rawai will begin at the taxi stand in front of the Serenity Resort & Residences on Wiset Road.

A complaint was filed on September 27 alleging that a man had called a limousine taxi to pick up his sister and her foreign partner to have dinner, Col Somboon explained.

“After the taxi picked up his sister at the resort, the taxi was not allowed to leave because a man had blocked the exit with a steel boom gate.

“The man threatened the passenger – the complainant’s sister – and said she was only allowed to use taxis from in front of hotel,” he said.

Finally, after two hours of negotiating with her captor, the woman was allowed to leave the resort in the limousine taxi, Col Somboon said.

“The incident was caught on CCTV, and we will use the footage as evidence,” he said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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