Region 8 Police Commander Lt Gen Kitrat Panpetch issued an order yesterday (July 31) to transfer the two top-ranking officers of the Phuket Provincial Police and one senior officer of the Chalong Police to temporarily work at the Region 8 headquarters at the northern end of the island while the investigation is carried out.
Lt Gen Kitrat identified those transferred by position only, as the Phuket Provincial Police Commander, a position currently served by Maj Pornsak Nuannoo; the Phuket Provincial Police Investigation Division Chief, better known as Col Bandit Khaosutham; and Chalong Police Sub-inspector, known by his fellow officers as Lt Col Pornprasit Wenthong.
The order to transfer the officers was marked to be in effect from today (Aug 1) until a further order is issued.
Lt Gen Kitrat on July 19 transferred the five top-ranking officers at Phuket City Police Station pending an investigation as to why the gambling den was allowed to operate.
The officers transferred were Phuket City Police Chief Col Theerawat Liamsuwan, Deputy Chief of Crime Suppression Lt Col Chakkrit Taewattana, Deputy Chief of Investigation Lt Col Sathit Nurit, Crime Suppression Inspector Lt Col Boonchai Charoenhattakit and Investigation Inspector Lt Col Thapthai Leelanon.
The gambling raid on 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.
The venue was known as the ‘Dragon Tiger’ gambling den. One of the 28 gamblers arrested was reported to be a local politician.
The order for the raid came from Pol Maj Gen Jiraphop Phuridet, Deputy Commissioner of the national Central Investigation Bureau (CIB).
It is not the first time a slew of top-ranking police officers in Phuket have been probed over illegal gambling dens operating in their area.
As recently as last year, Royal Thai Police deputy spokesman Col Krissana Phattanacharoen announced from Bangkok that the national police headquarters had been notified of raids on two gambling dens, one in Phuket Town and another in Srisoonthorn, that netted 87 people for illegal gambling.
Maj Gen Rungrote Thakurapunyasiri, Phuket Provincial Police Chief at the time, had ordered the top five high-ranking officers at both Phuket City Police Station and Thalang Police Station to be immediately transferred to Phuket Provincial Police Station while an investigation into the gambling dens is carried out, Col Krissana said.
“As written in the Police Order no. 1212/2537, if any police action is found to be unlawful or corrupt, the officers must be prosecuted under the law and regulations strictly, without any exception,” Col Krissana assured.
“However, we have to wait for the result of the investigation to determine whether the police ignored the gambling venues or not, in order to be fair for everyone,” he said.
The results of that investigation have yet to be revealed.