They found the mangroves had been removed, the site had been levelled and construction of a property development was well under way.
They seized seven trucks and a bulldozer. The case has been passed to the Thalang police to follow up and charge those responsible.
The chairman, Punya Sumpaorat, said “Pa Khlok Municipality continually checks for mangrove forest encroachment by ‘entrepreneurs’ because most of the area [along the shore] is forest under the protection of HM the Queen, and locals and the municipality have replanted regularly.
“If business people would like to invest in property in the Pa Khlok area, they should ask for proper permission from us and we will check on the area in order to ensure they are not encroaching and are not likely to run into problems with local people in the area.”
Mangroves forests in Phuket have come under attack again and again by unscrupulous developers and others who see knocking down the forests as a way to acquire land for nothing.
In some cases this has led to extreme violence between the businessman and local people, who understand that mangroves offer protection from severe weather and tsunamis, and are an essential nursery for fish and other marine life.
In 2001 a local environmental activist, Jurin Rachapol, was shot dead by a hitman allegedly hired by a Bangkok-based businessman, Somsak Wongsawanond, after Jurin and others opposed his wiping out of mangroves to establish a prawn farm.
Another campaigner, Siripoj Cheechang, was knocked off his motorbike and run over, twice, by the same hitman. He survived.
The hitman, Bancha Noppawong, was eventually arrested and is serving a life sentence.
Somsak was arrested on charges of conspiracy to murder but eventually was only fined for illegal possession of a weapon and firing a weapon in a public place.
He was fined and his prawn farm was closed down.