Police raid illegal Phuket forest homestead

PHUKET: A Phuket police raid on an illegal homestead in the Kamala Forest yesterday found no people but did turn up a registered rifle which police are using to pursue suspects.

More than 30 Phuket police officers and a special squad from Region 8 Police went to the site, located three kilometers away from the nearest road, after local residents reported that someone had encroached on the land, cut trees and built a house, said Provincial Police Deputy Commander Arun Kaewvatee.

After a 20-minute ride through the forest, police came across a 20-rai area where trees had been cut down.

“Logs and cut planks of wood were stacked up here and there, and some were hidden in tall grass,” said Col Arun.

“We estimate the value of the cut wood to be about 50,000 baht,” he added, though he did not specify what kind of tree had been cut down.

Inside the wooden house built on the property, police found a .22mm rifle and 20 rounds of ammunition. The gun had a permit, and a check with the Kathu District Office revealed it is owned by Rungrot Khnayern, 39, a Kamala resident.

“We will call Mr Rungrot in for questioning,” said Col Arun.

Police also found a chainsaw and other wood and grass-cutting equipment inside the house.

Charges likely to be pressed in the case are: encroachment, illegally cutting trees and possession of a chainsaw, Col Arun said.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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