Region 8 Police Commander Lt Gen Kitrat Panpetch issued an order yesterday (July 19) to transfer the five top-ranking officers at Phuket City Police Station to temporarily work at the Region 8 headquarters at the northern end of the island while an investigation is conducted into their affairs relating to the gambling den.
Lt Gen Kitrat identified those transferred by position only, as Phuket City Police Chief, Deputy Chief of Crime Suppression, Deputy Chief of Investigation, Suppression Inspector and Investigation Inspector.
Thai-language daily Post Today, however, named all five as Phuket City Police Chief Col Theerawat Liamsuwan, Deputy Chief of Crime Suppression Lt Col Chakkrit Taewattana, Deputy Chief of Investigation Lt Col Sathit Nurit, Suppression Inspector Lt Col Boonchai Charoenhattakit and Investigation Inspector Lt Col Thapthai Leelanon.
The gambling raid on Saturday (July 17) was conducted at a resort villa on Koh Siray where police arrested gamblers playing baccarat. Officers also seized betting chips which were marked to represent a total value of about B12 million.
Thai news agencies have reported that the venue was known as the ’Dragon Tiger’ gambling den.
One of the gamblers arrested was reported to be a local politician.
“We are ready to follow the commander’s order, and I confirm that we have been performing our duties with our best intention and capability. Before conducting the arrests, we had also coordinated and shared information with the Central Investigation Bureau (CIB),” Col Theerawat said in response to being temporarily transferred pending the investigation.
“When the commander gives us orders, we need to follow them,” he said.
Phuket Governor Narong Woonciew yesterday explained to the press that he had been informed of the transfers and investigation.
“The Phuket government has ordered all officers on the island to look for and take action on any gatherings for illegal purposes, especially gambling, and our police have patrolled frequently and taken decisive action,” Governor Narong said.
“I have already ordered relevant officers to examine whether the resort was legally being used as a gambling venue in accordance with the law. Meanwhile, the local politician will be prosecuted under relevant law,” he concluded.
Gambling is permitted in Thailand but only for special circumstances such as merit making as part of a funeral ‒ and only with express permission from local law enforcement authorities and local administrative officials.