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Catch and release: Patong illegal jet-ski operators fined and set free

PHUKET: A task force of 300 law-enforcement officers under order by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha specifically targeted and arrested 28 illegal jet-ski operators at Patong as part of an anti-crime campaign that has set its sights on criminal activities being “overlooked” by local officials.

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By Tanyaluk Sakoot

Friday 26 February 2016, 12:00PM


Phuket Marine Chief Phuripat Theerakulpisut, whose office was left in the dark about the raid, this week was transferred out of Phuket (see story here), but the jet-ski operators will face only fines of B500 to B1,000, with only one operator facing a fine of B5,000.

The task force, headed by Pol Maj Gen Adis Ngamchitsuksri, a Deputy Commissioner of the Royal Thai Police Central Investigation Bureau, targeted the jet-ski operators on the first day of their anti-crime blitz, which also netted several armed suspects at a home of former Rassada Mayor Surathin Lianudom. (See story here.)

Pol Col Archayon Kraithong, a national-level Deputy Commander of the Tourist Police, told The Phuket News that the jet-ski operators

arrested were only one group of at least 60 targets singled out for takedown in a campaign that aims to curtail the illegal antics of any people involved in anything from land encroachment to drugs and weapons to being “influential persons”.

However, Patong was the only beach in Phuket targeted for jet-skis, no other beaches are on their list – for now, Col Archayon said.

“We have lots to do from our list,” he said. “We have our orders from Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and we are starting with special criminal cases that local officials have ‘overlooked’.”

Col Archyron added that the task force has set up a special centre at the Phuket Tourist Police headquarters in Phuket Town.

“We welcome people to inform us there of any suspected illegal activities. It would be nice to get more information, direct,” he said.

Phuket Marine Police Chief Lt Col Panya Chaichana explained that all 28 jet-ski operators arrested, and who had their 87 jet-skis seized, are to be fined only for “technicalities”.

Other than fines, the illegal operators will face no further legal action, he added. “But if they are caught breaking the law again, we will fine them again,” he said.

The “catch-and-release” policy comes despite the repeated pledge by Marine 5 Chief Phuripat that any jet-ski operators found guilty of illegalities or severe breach of safety regulations would be banned from renting jet-skis to tourists at Phuket’s beaches.

Mr Phuripat, who for years has allowed rental jet-ski operators to work on the beaches, this week declined to comment what action his office will take against the illegal operators arrested in this latest blitz.

“Go ask the policemen who arrested them,” he said.

“But the 28 cases will be reported to the Governor, so their cases are not concluded for now,” he added.

Mr Phuripat, however, from February 25 is no longer be the Marine Office Region 5 Chief.

“I will move to Marine Office Region 2 in Nonthaburi, where I will take up the same position… At this stage, I do not know who will replace me,” he said.

 

 

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samantha | 07 November 2016 - 07:56:24

"special criminal cases that local officials have ‘overlooked’.”

You mean cases where there's money changing hands and corruption!

MURPHYJUNK | 01 March 2016 - 04:41:40

confiscate the jet skis and see who comes to claim them ( the big connected boss)

petermach | 29 February 2016 - 11:55:16

“But if they are caught breaking the law again, we will fine them again,” we heard that so many times , these arrests and fines are utterly ridiculous and as usual useless.

Christy S | 27 February 2016 - 07:54:03

Got a contact for Col Archyron?

Richard Vickers | 26 February 2016 - 22:07:15

It is about time for this hard core "anti-crime blitz" that nailed these notorious scumbag criminals and levied those brutal and severe 500 baht fines.  I'm just wondering if maybe the outgoing Marine Office 5 colluder...er, I'm mean Chief, managed to swing one more sweet "going away" deal for his jetski brothers in crime.  What a circus...now let's move on to the n...

Seaturtle55 | 26 February 2016 - 18:43:28

Oh....Oh....Officer...please officer, can you smack me with that wet noodle on the other side on the other side of hand...it feels so good..er, I mean bad!!!  No, I will never ever scam another tourist out of 20 or 30 thousand baht...no, it just isn't worth it....being fined 500 baht....that is over..ahh..let me see....OMB...that's 2.5% of my scam earning...oh, wait a moment..I've scam...

Foot | 26 February 2016 - 17:06:20

How much were the fines?  B100,000?  B200,000?

Kurt | 26 February 2016 - 12:16:43

The raid of the Police task force (from outside Phuket), resulting in arrests/fining many (28!) illegal Patong Beach jet ski operators, shows clearly that the now leaving Phuket Marine Office chief has been quite bad in his duty performing. Great he will be transferred closer to BKK where his superiors can keep a closer look on him.

The fines of 500 thb up to 1000 thb make me laugh.
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