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Interpol Pursues ‘Joe Pattani’: Unveiling the Oil Smuggling Operation in Thailand

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Police and forensic officers are meticulously gathering evidence on the Kamraingoen, a ship that’s been modified and repainted beyond recognition. This vessel, one of three oil-smuggling ships, was recovered and is now safely anchored at the Port of Songkhla since June 17. (Photo. Assawin Pakkawan).

Next week, police plan to seek arrest warrants for two individuals suspected of orchestrating the audacious disappearance of oil-smuggling ships from a police pier in Chon Buri earlier this month, according to an insider on Friday. The suspects identified are “Joe Namman Thuen,” infamously also known as “Joe Pattani,” and his right-hand man, Mr. Lek, who the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB) suspects to be the manager behind these shadowy operations. Notably, Mr. Lek had put up a 3-million-baht bail to free the 28 crew members when they were initially detained in mid-March.

The CIB intends to collaborate with Interpol to issue red notices against these primary suspects, believing they have sought refuge abroad, the source divulged further. On June 11, a dramatic turn of events saw 15 of the 28 crew members manning the three vessels, slipping away from Sattahip in Chon Buri and into Cambodian waters, laden with 330,000 litres of illicit fuel.

However, the daring escape met an abrupt halt last Monday near the maritime border with Malaysia, with only eight crewmen aboard the seized ships—evidently missing their copious diesel cargo which had been siphoned off. The vessels, speculated to belong to the nefarious network of Joe Pattani, raise more questions than answers.

Recent revelations point to a marine police officer, whose Thai initial is “Nor (N),” having a possible involvement. A leaked Line chat unveils a dialogue between him and the elusive Joe Pattani, adding more intrigue to the unfolding drama. Pol Gen Kraiboon Suadsong, head of the Oil Smuggling Suppression Centre, informed that a detailed report on the incident had been submitted to Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin on Thursday.

The investigating team is hot on the trail of a significant vessel named K9, rumored to have siphoned off the smuggled oil from the three ships during their sojourn in Cambodia. Authorities suspect that this elusive ship is still within Thai waters.

CIB deputy commissioner, Pol Maj Gen Jaroonkiat Pankaew, reassured that the case is progressing steadily. Scrutiny intensifies as police are relentless in their pursuit of the mastermind and the individual who orchestrated the theft of the three impounded vessels.

Adding to the mix, Democrat MP Chaichana Detdecho, chairman of the House Committee on Police Affairs, stated that a report had surfaced indicating the involvement of a marine police officer in this bold criminal enterprise. The implicated officer is identified as a deputy superintendent with initials “Sor (S).”

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