Navy captures oil smugglers, arrests 5

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The Royal Thai Navy captured a Malaysia-registered oil tanker smuggling more than 100,000 liters of oil into Thailand, arresting five Thai crewmembers and seizing about a million baht in cash.

The Thailand Maritime Enforcement Coordinating Center Area 1 ran the April 4 interdiction of the 30-meter-long Petchburi 99, forcing it to anchor about 23 miles off Koh Chuang in Samae San Bay.

The Royal Thai Navy captured a Malaysia-registered oil tanker smuggling more than 100,000 liters of oil into Thailand, arresting five Thai crewmembers and seizing about a million baht in cash.The Royal Thai Navy captured a Malaysia-registered oil tanker smuggling more than 100,000 liters of oil into Thailand, arresting five Thai crewmembers and seizing about a million baht in cash.

The converted tanker was found to lack any legal registration. Captain Thraithep Thutongkham, 56, and crewmembers Thanate Nakham, 27, Itthiphol Chuwaen, 27, Aphisit Pradabkham, 54, and Sanya Dathong, 39, were arrested.

The tanker was taken to the Battle Squadron of Sattahip where the Chonburi’s Customs Department’s Suppression Bureau of Investigation, the Excise Office Chonburi 2, the Marine Department and the Marine Police were contacted to investigate.

They found that the tanker was smuggling 87,000 liters of diesel and 926,000 baht in cash was seized. Thraithep admitted that they have been smuggling diesel fuel from Malaysia, authorities said.

Vice Adm. Suchiep Wangmaithree said relevant agencies were contacted to find a way to track ship routes via satellite.

The seized ship, meanwhile, was masking its true name, W. Chareonsook, registered in Narathiwat province. The Customs Department also reported it is tracking the money.

The diesel concerned is known as ‘green diesel’, a type that burns faster than normal diesel, and it was smuggled without paying tax. The tanker itself is also illegal, and officials were never notified that it was converted and its name changed.