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High-Seas Drama: Disappearance of 330,000 Litres of Smuggled Oil Sparks Major Investigation in Chon Buri

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Confiscated vessels are anchored at the marine police pier in Sattahip district of Chon Buri. (Photo supplied/Wassayos Ngamkham)

In a twist fit for an action-packed thriller, five police officers have been reassigned to inactive posts amid the bewildering disappearance of three boats carrying a hefty 330,000 litres of smuggled oil and 18 crew members from a marine police pier in Chon Buri. The search is on for these rogue vessels, which are believed to be associated with a notorious oil smuggler operating in southern Thailand. The authorities suspect that the boats might be making their way toward Cambodian waters, although current intel suggests they haven’t quite made it to international waters just yet.

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) has wasted no time and sprung into action, forming a fact-finding committee to unravel the mystery behind how these three out of five recently confiscated vessels from an oil smuggling case pulled a vanishing act early Wednesday from the pier in Sattahip district. The reassignment of the officers is seen as a strategic move to eliminate any potential bias and ensure a scrupulous investigation, according to high-ranking officials.

Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, the CIB’s deputy commissioner, who has swooped down to Sattahip to spearhead the investigation, broke down the inquiry into three facets: identifying the officers who may have dropped the ball, tracking down the missing boats and their crew, and setting up a command centre aimed at uncovering the mischief behind the disappearance and escorting the vessels back to safety.

“There’s a strong possibility that the three elusive ships are still meandering in the Gulf of Thailand and haven’t yet infiltrated neighboring maritime borders,” he remarked on Thursday. “Due to the nature of their cargo – all that oil – they can only cruise at a leisurely pace of 7 to 8 knots. Covering the distance to the neighboring country of around 240 nautical miles would set them back about 15 hours.”

In a decisive move on Thursday, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, the CIB commissioner, authorized the transfer of the five marine police officers to inactive roles at the CIB operations centre. The officers caught in this shuffling are Pol Col Intarat Panya, superintendent of Marine Police Division 5; Pol Lt Col Ajin Wangwatthana, deputy superintendent of Division 5; Pol Lt Col Kobchai To-on, an inspector with Marine Police Sub-Division 3, Division 5; Pol Sgt Maj Thammarat Lekmontra, squad leader of Sub-Division 3, Division 5; and Pol Cpl Apichart Channu, squad leader of Marine Police Sub-Division 3, Division 5.

As the clock ticks and the antennas across the Gulf of Thailand twitch, everyone’s eyes are glued to the waters, eagerly awaiting the reappearance of the ghost ships. Will the smuggler’s luck run aground, or will this high-seas drama chart an unexpected course? Only time will tell. Buckle up, folks – this nautical mystery is just getting started.


  1. Mark Summers June 13, 2024

    This case is baffling! How do you lose three entire boats? There’s definitely corruption involved.

    • Lisa C. June 13, 2024

      It’s not that surprising considering the scale. Corruption runs deep in many parts of the world.

      • grower134 June 13, 2024

        Maybe someone got paid off. Boats don’t just vanish into thin air.

      • Mark Summers June 13, 2024

        True, but the real question is who benefits from this disappearance? Follow the money.

      • Katie June 13, 2024

        Lots of people could benefit. Smugglers, corrupt officers, even rival countries.

  2. Joe June 13, 2024

    I don’t care what anyone says, this is exactly what happens when you don’t pay attention to border security. We need stricter measures!

    • Hannah Lee June 13, 2024

      Stricter measures won’t stop corruption. It’s like trying to put a band-aid on a bullet wound.

      • Joe June 13, 2024

        Maybe not, but it’s better than doing nothing.

    • Ali K. June 13, 2024

      I agree. We need systematic change, not just stricter laws.

  3. Phil M. June 13, 2024

    Why hasn’t Interpol been called in? Seems like an international issue.

  4. Nancy D. June 13, 2024

    This investigation better be thorough or we’ll be seeing more of these incidents. No one should be above the law.

    • Ben G. June 13, 2024

      Sadly, lots of people are above the law. Especially in these kinds of high-stakes operations.

      • Nancy D. June 13, 2024

        That’s why we need watchdogs and transparency. It’s a hard battle but worth fighting.

  5. Mike84 June 13, 2024

    I bet the boats are long gone by now. They probably had help from insiders.

    • Sarah P. June 13, 2024

      Or maybe they just made a mistake and got lost at sea. Not everything is a conspiracy.

  6. TommyJ June 13, 2024

    Oil smuggling in Thailand is a bigger problem than most people realize. This is just the tip of the iceberg.

    • Lisa C. June 13, 2024

      Agreed, it goes much deeper. This incident is probably just a symptom of a much larger network.

  7. Anika June 13, 2024

    I feel for the crew members. They might be scapegoats in this whole mess.

  8. Lucas W. June 13, 2024

    If major shifts like this are happening unnoticed, how many smaller operations are slipping through? Scary thought.

    • Joel June 13, 2024

      Exactly. Smugglers are always one step ahead of the authorities.

  9. Eduardo M. June 13, 2024

    This could escalate into a diplomatic issue if those boats actually reach another country’s waters.

  10. mediumfade June 13, 2024

    They’re being strategic by suspecting Cambodian waters. It makes for good political leverage.

  11. Rita June 13, 2024

    It’s crazy how these things happen and the general public is always the last to know.

    • grower134 June 13, 2024

      That’s by design. Keeps everyone in the dark and easier to control.

  12. Sam June 13, 2024

    What about the environmental impact? 330,000 litres of oil could cause a disaster if there’s an accident.

    • Kelly B. June 13, 2024

      Exactly. We need to think about the ecological consequences here.

    • Joe June 13, 2024

      Environmental concerns are serious, but stopping the smugglers is the first priority.

  13. Olivia Chan June 13, 2024

    How do these officers think they can just lay low after something this huge? They’ll be caught eventually.

    • Nancy D. June 13, 2024

      They’re probably banking on the bureaucracy slowing the investigation down.

  14. Alex G. June 13, 2024

    Let’s not forget the geopolitical implications. This isn’t just about some boats and oil.

  15. Sarah P. June 13, 2024

    It’s just insane how much corruption can screw things up for everyone else.

  16. ben123 June 13, 2024

    Why is the media not giving more attention to this? Should be bigger news.

    • Phil M. June 13, 2024

      There are probably other interests at play, controlling the narrative.

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