The raid was led by Ronnarong Thipsiri, Director of the Law Enforcement Operations Center, under the Bureau of Investigation and Legal Affairs, Department of Provincial Administration (DOPA) at 3:30pm.
Joining the raids were Territorial Defense Volunteer Division (OrSor) personnel.
Mr Ronnarong explained that his office was informed of the gambling venues by the Phuket office of the Damrongdharma Centre (Ombudsman’s Office), which usually handles complaints against officials for failing to perform their duty.
The venues were open 24 hours and he was asked to investigate, Mr Ronnarong said.
Mr Ronnarong did not clarify whether the complaint filed with the Damrongdharma Centre included any complaints against law-enforcement officers for failing to perform their duty.
An ensuing investigation confirmed the venues were being used for gambling, resulting in search warrants being issued for officers to raid the two sites, he said.
When officers arrived to conduct the first raid, at a building on Phoonpon Rd in Phuket Town, people were standing by at the entrance and around 30 vehicles were parked in front of the venue.
Inside the building, officers arrested 45 gamblers, comprising 30 men and 15 women. Officers also seized B62,420 in cash and a gold necklace valued at around B26,600 as evidence.
The second raid, at a sala near the Khao Lan Intersection in Srisoonthorn, Thalang, was hidden from public view by sheets of galvanized tin and plastic sacks, but was conspicuous by the 40 or so motorbikes parked in front, Mr Ronnarong explained.
At the site, officers arrested 42 gamblers – 22 men and 20 women – and seized B64,260 in cash. Officers also seized accounting notes showing that more than B1 million passed through the venue each day, he said.
The gamblers were taken to Muang Phuket District Office and Thalang District Office respectively, and then taken to the local police stations for processing, he added.
All 87 charged for illegal gambling, Mr Ronnarong noted.
They were also charged under the Emergency Decree for forming an illegal gathering, he confirmed.
The two venues had been open for gambling for a long time, but they were closed after “local people” informed “a big news agency”, Mr Ronnarong explained.
The venues resumed operations after Phase 4 of the easing of the COVID-19 restrictions came into effect, he said.
“Gamblers were not wearing face masks, and there was no disease-control measures at all,” he said.
“Officers from the Department of Provincial Administration will continue to arrest gamblers and eliminate other gambling venues,” Mr Ronnarong assured.
“If anyone has information about gambling venues, please inform local police or administrative officers. If officers do not take any action or ignore the information provided, please inform the Damrongdharma Centre,” he said.