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Interpol Hunt for Joe Pattani: Behind the Bold Oil Smuggling Heist from Chon Buri

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Police and forensic science officers meticulously gathered evidence aboard the ‘Kamraingoen’ vessel, a ship that had undergone significant modifications and repainting. This vessel, along with two others, had been apprehended for oil-smuggling activities and was anchored at the Port of Songkhla on June 17. (Photo by Assawin Pakkawan)

The Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) is gearing up to issue arrest warrants next week for two individuals alleged to be behind the vanishing of oil-smuggling vessels from a police pier in Chon Buri earlier this month, according to a source on Friday. The suspects are identified as “Joe Namman Thuen”, popularly known as “Joe Pattani”, and a certain Mr. Lek, who is believed to be his manager. Mr. Lek had posted the 3-million-baht bail for the 28 crew members of the vessels following their mid-March arrest.

The CIB also intends to enlist Interpol’s help by seeking red notices for the two main suspects, as it is believed they have since fled the country, the source further revealed.

In an audacious escape on June 11, fifteen out of the 28 crew members embarked on the three vessels from Sattahip in Chon Buri, setting sail for Cambodia with a staggering load of 330,000 litres of smuggled oil. However, when authorities recaptured the vessels and crew near the maritime border with Malaysia last Monday, only eight crew members remained on board, and the majority of the diesel oil had already been siphoned off.

Speculations indicate that the boats are under the ownership of Joe Pattani’s network. A marine police officer whose Thai initials are Nor (“N”) is reportedly implicated after a leaked Line chat between him and Joe surfaced recently.

Pol Gen Kraiboon Suadsong, director of the National Police Bureau’s Oil Smuggling Suppression Centre, noted that the Centre submitted a detailed report on the incident to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Thursday. The investigating team is diligently seeking the whereabouts of a substantial vessel named K9, which is alleged to have drained the smuggled oil from all three vessels while they were moored in Cambodia. Authorities suspect that the ship remains within Thailand’s nautical boundaries.

Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, CIB deputy commissioner, expressed that the investigation is making headway, with ongoing efforts to uncover more evidence to identify the true mastermind behind the scheme, in addition to the individual who directed the crew to abscond with the three seized vessels.

Democrat MP Chaichana Detdecho, chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, revealed yesterday that the committee received a report indicating the involvement of a deputy superintendent-ranked marine officer, whose Thai initials are Sor (“S”), in the oil-smuggling network.


  1. Helen M June 21, 2024

    This whole scandal seems right out of a movie. How do they let them escape with such a huge amount of oil?

    • Tommy B June 21, 2024

      Probably because the authorities are involved too. When will people understand the corruption runs deep?

      • Lena Grace June 21, 2024

        Or maybe it’s just incompetence? Not everything has to be a conspiracy.

      • Helen M June 21, 2024

        Lena, incompetence might happen occasionally, but this stinks of something more.

    • John Williams June 21, 2024

      But why would they risk such a high profile crime? It just doesn’t add up.

  2. Max June 21, 2024

    If Joe Pattani is smart enough to pull this off, he should be a strategist, not a criminal.

    • Anita S June 21, 2024

      Criminals often have great minds, they just use them differently.

    • Kevin Lee June 21, 2024

      Max, people like him don’t think about what could be, just the immediate gains.

    • Maya Fernandez June 21, 2024

      It’s sad how talent gets wasted due to greed.

  3. Rachel June 21, 2024

    How can the police let this happen under their nose? Someone needs to answer for this.

    • Sarah K. June 21, 2024

      Absolutely! Heads should roll, but will they? Likely not.

  4. Ben Rodriguez June 21, 2024

    What about the environment? Smuggled oil spills are detrimental.

    • EcoWarrior34 June 21, 2024

      Shame that nobody is talking about the environmental impact. Few care for our planet.

  5. Laura K. June 21, 2024

    Joe Pattani sounds like a modern-day pirate. Will we ever learn the full story?

  6. Chris June 21, 2024

    Honestly, I wouldn’t be surprised if this is just the tip of the iceberg.

  7. Susan Miller June 21, 2024

    Three million baht bail? They might as well have opened the door for him.

    • Mike D June 21, 2024

      Susan, isn’t it always about money? Bail only works for those who can’t afford it.

    • Jake Thompson June 21, 2024

      Three million isn’t even that much considering what they were dealing with.

  8. Oliver S. June 21, 2024

    What’s Interpol gonna do? These guys probably have fake identities by now.

    • Jenny W June 21, 2024

      Oliver, Interpol has caught fugitives before. It might take time, but it’s not impossible.

  9. Anthony June 21, 2024

    It’s sad to see this level of organized crime operating so openly.

    • Nina June 21, 2024

      I agree, but it’s a global issue. We’re just more aware of it now.

  10. Sophia L. June 21, 2024

    So they chased them back to the border and missed the oil? Feels intentional.

    • Carlos June 21, 2024

      Intentional or just bad luck? Sometimes things aren’t as planned as we think.

  11. Ravi June 21, 2024

    I wonder how widespread this oil smuggling network is. This can’t be an isolated case.

    • Emma Green June 21, 2024

      You bet! Highly unlikely it’s just a one-off. Networks like this operate on a large scale.

  12. Brenda June 21, 2024

    If this involves high-ranking officers, the rabbit hole must go very deep.

    • Luke June 21, 2024

      True, Brenda. But that’s why it’ll be hard to get full accountability.

    • Brenda June 21, 2024

      I just hope the investigators don’t get scared off.

  13. Harold June 21, 2024

    The fact that they’re giving daily updates means they’re serious. Let’s wait and see.

  14. Amanda June 21, 2024

    Why is the focus only on Joe and Mr. Lek? There’s definitely more people involved.

    • Derek T June 21, 2024

      Amanda, you’re right. They are probably just the faces we know.

  15. Sam June 21, 2024

    Why not use high-tech surveillance to track these vessels? Seems outdated.

    • Tina June 21, 2024

      Sam, not everything in real life works like in a movie. There’s red tape and limitations.

  16. Gloria June 21, 2024

    330,000 liters of oil? That’s a lot. Where’s it all going?

    • Xander June 21, 2024

      Markets where they’ll get a huge profit, obviously. It’s all about the money.

  17. Wendy June 21, 2024

    Prime Minister needs to take stricter actions against such crimes.

    • Hunter45 June 21, 2024

      Wendy, politicians often have their hands tied. Let’s see if this time is any different.

    • Wendy June 21, 2024

      Hunter45, I hope so. Otherwise, this will keep happening.

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