Thawee himself surrendered on June 4 to answer charges of supporting mafia taxi activities in the Karon area, abusing his position to allow the taxi drivers to use a public sala as a taxi station, and allowing them to use, free, electricity and water that are paid for from national coffers.
The four who surrendered today are the two deputy mayors, Itthipon Sangkeaw and Sompong Dapphet, the town clerk (palad), Veerasak Anek-ongsawatt, and the head of the town’s planning department, Wanchai Saetan.
Following up on information from the 108 taxi and tuk-tuk drivers arrested at the beginning of June, police have spent the intervening time investigating the influential four, believed to be behind much of the extortion, threats and other misbehavior of the taxi drivers.
Maj Gen Paween Pongsirin, Commander of the General Staff Division, Provincial Police Region 8, who has been working on the Phuket taxi crackdown for months, told The Phuket News, “We have all the necessary evidence to arrest [the four]. We are sure of every piece of evidence that points to them.”
At least one of the four is unusually rich. It was confirmed that Wanchai alone had B128 million in his bank account.
As the four were taken away to be booked and to give statements, Gen Paween, along with his boss, Lt Gen Panya Mamen and the caretaker police chief of Phuket, Maj Gen Krajang Suwannarat, filed into the room where the taxi crimes investigation is being coordinated, and discussed the 21 files on the table, each one containing evidence against a politician or government official.
They questioned investigators on progress and then gave approval for follow-up steps the investigators plan to take.
Gen Panya expressed his satisfaction with progress. He added, “We are collecting evidence concerning [taxi crimes] at Phuket International Airport and in Patong area.
Noting that there had been no serious cases of witnesses being threatened, he urged anyone with evidence to come forward.
This afternoon, the two mayors and two bureaucrats are being escorted to their homes, which will be searched for more evidence.