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Songkhla Oil Smuggling Saga: Marine Police Capture Three Vanished Vessels Near Malaysia

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Picture this: a sleek marine police boat slicing through the azure waves on a crisp Monday morning, escorting three wayward vessels back to the Port of Songkhla. These weren’t just any ships – they were infamous oil-smuggling contraptions that had gone awry, found loitering suspiciously near Malaysian waters. (Photo: Assawin Pakkawan)

In a twist that reads like a spy novel, eleven crew members from the absconded oil-smuggling boats turned themselves in to the police earlier that same day. Their surrender followed promptly after arrest warrants were issued for an additional fifteen crew members in light of the mysterious vanishing of three out of five seized smuggling boats. These boats had disappeared without a trace from a secure marine police compound.

The enigmatic disappearance had all the hallmarks of a high-seas heist. From Chon Buri’s sleepy Sattahip district, the three boats vanished into thin air—or, more accurately, watery depths—only to reappear days later amidst the sprawling coastal expanse of Malaysia. The 11 surrendering crew members, accompanied by their legal counsel, reported to the Economic Crime Suppression Division’s (ECD) office for a grilling session. They were part of the colorful collective of 28 crew members responsible for manning and operating the vanishing ships.

Leading the investigation, Pol Col Chatchawal Chuchaicharoen, exuded a Sherlockian zeal as he aimed to unravel the mess. The interrogation sought to piece together who among the crew were still in the country and who had made a clean getaway. Early findings indicated that 15 crew members had escaped on the elusive vessels while the remaining 13 stayed put in Thailand. Out of these 13, two—one Thai and one foreigner—were still unaccounted for, with their guarantors frantically hunting them down.

Pol Col Chatchawal laid down the law with a stern warning: the 15 escapees forfeited their bail privileges and were to be apprehended for their jailbreak. The responsibility for bringing these slippery seafarers to justice fell squarely on their guarantors, while the ECD prepared to press charges of grand theft. The probing officers were hot on the trail, seeking to expose the masterminds behind this intricate operation.

Diving into the story’s roots, these 28 crew members initially found themselves in trouble on March 19, arrested for tax-related offenses. They were granted bail set at a hefty two million baht each, a costly liberty that enabled their covert escape. At the heart of this drama were the three now-infamous vessels, each holding a staggering 330,000 liters of contraband diesel when they vanished from the Sattahip pier.

But their game of hide-and-seek hit a dead end on a fateful Sunday. The boats, heavy with illicit cargo, were cornered by marine police near Malaysian waters. Upon inspection, a significant portion of the oil had seemingly evaporated into thin air, or perhaps found its way into dubious channels.

By Monday, the three renegade boats had docked at the Port of Songkhla, the climax to an odyssey that would be the envy of any maritime caper. However, the shadowy figures behind this elaborate escapade remained shrouded in mystery, as the ECD continued their relentless quest for justice. The high-stakes saga of the disappearing, reappearing oil-smuggling vessels is far from over, keeping anyone following the narrative on the edge of their seat.


  1. Tom R June 17, 2024

    This is like a scene straight out of an action movie! How do boats just disappear from a secure police compound?

    • Sophia Davis June 17, 2024

      It’s worrying to think about such blatant lapses in security. Someone on the inside must be involved.

      • Tom R June 17, 2024

        Exactly! Corruption seems likely. Hopefully, the authorities get to the bottom of it.

      • Michael42 June 17, 2024

        Not just worrying, but it makes you question the efficiency of the police. This kind of stuff should never happen.

    • David Lee June 17, 2024

      Or maybe the police were in on it. What better way to smuggle oil than using confiscated boats?

      • Emma J. June 17, 2024

        That would be incredibly bold. If true, it would be one of the biggest scandals ever!

  2. Alex89 June 17, 2024

    I don’t understand why we even bother with such heavy surveillance. They always find a way around it.

    • Kara D. June 17, 2024

      That’s a very defeatist attitude. We need more surveillance and better policing, not less.

      • Alex89 June 17, 2024

        True, but it’s frustrating when it seems like it’s all for nothing. We need real solutions, not just more cameras.

    • Oscar W June 17, 2024

      Agreed. A more advanced system of tracking might be necessary. We need to stay one step ahead.

  3. Jessica T June 17, 2024

    What struck me was the amount of oil these boats carried – 330,000 liters each?! That’s insane!

    • Brian L June 17, 2024

      Yeah, and think about the environmental impact if some of that oil spilled. It’s a disaster waiting to happen.

      • Jessica T June 17, 2024

        Absolutely. Environmental regulations need to be stricter for these kind of operations.

    • EcoWarrior123 June 17, 2024

      People only care about the monetary side of it. We need to start prioritizing the planet.

  4. Susan P. June 17, 2024

    I feel sorry for the crew members who turned themselves in. They’re probably the scapegoats here.

    • Jack June 17, 2024

      They are not innocent; they were part of the smuggling operation. If they turned themselves in, they probably had no other choice.

      • Susan P. June 17, 2024

        But what if they were forced into it? Not everyone on those boats might have had a choice.

    • Helen33 June 17, 2024

      Scapegoats or not, they need to face the law. We can’t just let criminals go.

  5. Luke M June 17, 2024

    Pol Col Chatchawal sounds like a real-life detective. Imagine the pressure he’s under!

    • Oliver Lee June 17, 2024

      True, but that’s his job. He needs to solve cases like these. Kudos to him for the effort.

      • Luke M June 17, 2024

        Yeah, you’re right. I just hope he cracks this case soon.

  6. Natasha June 17, 2024

    What about the foreign crew members? This might have international ramifications.

    • MarcoPolo99 June 17, 2024

      Good point. Smuggling rings often involve multiple countries. This could be bigger than we think.

  7. Gary T. June 17, 2024

    I bet the oil has already been sold in the black market. These smugglers are always ten steps ahead.

    • Patricia W June 17, 2024

      Unfortunately, you’re probably right. It’s a lucrative business for them.

      • Gary T. June 17, 2024

        And that’s why it’s so hard to stop them. The incentives are too high to resist.

  8. Linda June 17, 2024

    It’s so impressive how quickly the marine police acted. Hats off to them!

  9. Richard June 17, 2024

    This mess is a clear indication of the rampant corruption in our law enforcement agencies. How do we trust them to protect us?

  10. Doreen June 17, 2024

    They’ve seized the boats but what about the masterminds behind this operation? Those are the ones who need to be caught.

    • Larry D June 17, 2024

      Absolutely. Catching these guys is just the tip of the iceberg. The real culprits are still out there.

      • Doreen June 17, 2024

        Let’s hope the investigation digs deeper. We need the whole network dismantled.

  11. Michael J. June 17, 2024

    Bringing them back to Songkhla is only half the battle. They should face severe penalties for this!

  12. Chris P June 17, 2024

    This whole situation shows how flawed the bail system is. Two million baht bail just let them continue their smuggling operation.

    • Alan W June 17, 2024

      True. We need to rethink how bail is handled, especially in serious crimes like smuggling.

      • Chris P June 17, 2024

        Exactly. If bail means people can continue committing crimes, we need a new system.

    • Sophia A June 17, 2024

      Maybe we should just abolish bail for such heinous crimes. They shouldn’t be allowed to skip town.

  13. Anthony June 17, 2024

    I can’t help but wonder if Malaysia is complicit in some way. These boats were found near their waters.

    • Ben June 17, 2024

      I was thinking the same thing. This could be a joint operation that spans borders.

      • Anthony June 17, 2024

        Exactly. It’s a possibility that can’t be ignored.

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