Phuket crackdown on organised crime seizes over 500 million baht

Picture courtesy of DOPA

Phuket became the centre of a significant crackdown on organised crime, as a Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) Special Operations Team seized more than 500 million baht (US$13.5 million) worth of illegal goods yesterday. The confiscated items included untaxed cigarettes, alcohol, and prohibited electronic cigarettes.

Phuket Governor Sophon Suwannarat unveiled the results of the operation at a press conference held at Phuket Provincial Hall last night. DOPA Inspector General, Ronarong Thipsiri, accompanied him during the announcement.

Governor Sophon labelled the raids as a significant victory against organised crime, with the operation specifically targeting a network of operators dealing in illegal goods.

The operation was launched following instructions from Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior, Anutin Charnvirakul. He tasked DOPA Director-General Orasit Samphantharat and Governor Sophon with addressing social organisation issues in Phuket province.

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The Special Operations Team obtained six search warrants from the Phuket Provincial Court to probe warehouses and shops in Mueang Phuket District and Kathu District, suspected of illegal activities.

The investigation revealed that three of the six scrutinised shops, registered as animal feed businesses, were fronts for the illicit sale of cigarettes, electronic cigarettes, and alcohol. These operations were strategically located, with some as close as 50 metres from schools, while others thrived in bustling market areas.

A police report stated that the raids took place between 1pm and 4pm yesterday. It named five locations raided: a house on Yaowarat Road in Phuket Town; a house on Ranong Road in Phuket Town; an alcohol vendor on Tilok Uthit Road in Phuket Town; an animal feed store on Kuku Road in Ratsada; and an unregistered building on Kuku Road in Ratsada.

During the operation, three suspects were apprehended. Two of the locations were found deserted at the time of the raid.

Ronarong Thipsiri highlighted that smuggling activities led to substantial losses for Thailand, amounting to at least 7 billion baht (US$190 million) each year, reported The Phuket News.

All the seized items have been transported to Phuket City Police Station and Kathu Police Station for further legal proceedings. DOPA has urged the public to report any suspicious activities via hotline 1567, a step towards combating illicit trade and ensuring public safety.

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Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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