Police Reveal Timeline of 3 Missing Oil-Smuggling Boats

Police escort oil-smuggling boats to the Port of Songkhla on June 17, 2024.
Police escort oil-smuggling boats to the Port of Songkhla on June 17, 2024.

SONGKHLA — On June 17, Pol. Maj. Gen. Jaroonkiat Pankaew, deputy commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, held a press conference on the progress of the case of the disappearance and recovery of three seized oil smuggling boats in Sattahip Harbor, Chonburi.

Pol. Maj. Gen. Jaroonkiat explained that investigations are ongoing to determine if the disappearance of the three boats is linked to a suspect named Jo. The Central Investigation Bureau is working diligently to find out the truth. The suspect’s actions are seen as a despicable insult to the police.

t is being investigated whether police officers were involved in the disappearance of the boats in the last three to four days. A committee has been set up to investigate this matter and the public is urged to trust the efforts of the police to solve this case without letting it disappear into oblivion.

“I assure you that we will prosecute all those involved if they are found guilty. The exact quantity of the missing oil is still undetermined and needs to be verified by forensic evidence,” said the deputy commissioner.


Police explained the timeline of events since the seizure of the boats, which later disappeared and were only found again yesterday.

On March 17, the oil smuggling boats were seized in Sattahip.

three oil boat2
The oil smuggling boats were seized in Sattahip.

On March 19, the Economic Crime Suppression Division coordinated with the Marine Police to recover the seized boats.

On June 11, a group of criminals hijacked the boats and reached Cambodian waters on  June 12, where they attempted to change the appearance of the boats by repainting them from red to green.

However, due to the rush to escape the authorities, only one boat was successfully converted. The suspects intended to reuse the boats and sell the seized oil in Cambodia. It is confirmed that the amount of oil is less than the original seizure.

On June 13, upon learning of the situation, maritime police coordinated with neighboring countries, including Cambodia, Vietnam and Malaysia, to inspect suspicious boats. The suspects, who were aware of the police search, moved their boats to shore. Some suspects fled ashore, while others remained on the boats.

three oil boat1
Three oil smuggling boats

The suspects changed their resting times to avoid detection. As pressure from the police increased, the suspects moved the boats from the coast of Cambodia to the Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) of Malaysia where they are familiar with the routes, narrowing the search area. Naval support from satellites and cooperation with fishing network partners provided crucial information.

On June 16, at 6:00 a.m., a network partner reported sightings of boats matching the description 90 miles off the coast of Songkhla. The Marine Police sent three boats for verification and confirmed at 15:00 p.m. that they were indeed the missing boats, as well as the names and identities of eight crew members, including three from the boat named “Kamrai Ngoen”,” four from the “JP” and one from the “Dawrung” who was maintaining the boats during an engine failure. It is believed that the remaining suspects are still evading arrest.

The suspects wanted to profit from both the seized oil worth 3-4 million baht and the boats worth 20 million baht. This motivated them to convert the boats for reuse. The discovery of the boats in the Pattani area is linked to influential local groups involved in the illegal oil trade, which explains why the boats were brought to the area from Sattahip. The link to the suspicious Jo who has appeared in the news is still being investigated.


During the first seizure, five boats and twenty-eight suspects were seized. Investigations have revealed that two financial groups are linked to this case.