The Keesin clan left the cells at Phuket City Police Station to be greeted by a group of friends who had waited outside in the hope the former mayor, sons and workers would be bailed.
Being freed followed two early morning bids for bail.
The first bid at 2.10am was rejected by case chief investigator Major General Paween Pongsirin, Commander of the general Staff Division, Region 8. He feared there was the possibilty of witnesses being intimidated if the Keesin group was freed.
However, later in the morning their bail application was authorised by Phuket Police Commander Major General Krajang Suwanarat. The Keesins emerged to be greeted by their friends about 5am.
The Keesins and their staffers surrendered to police yesterday after a task force swoop on Thursday hauled in scores of Patong tuk-tuk and taxi drivers over a major street blockade in March and allegations of intimidation and extortion.
The Patong raids centred on the former mayor's house and addresses associated with the family company, Pisona. A large safe seized during the swoop has yet to be opened. Police say they found more than 300,000 baht in a box and a list that appeared to show the regular payments made to Patong council by vendors and traders who in some cases could be operating outside the law.
Pian Keesin is now 70 and viewed as a father figure by some who have lived and worked in Patong during his long years in charge. The west coast holiday hub has a reputation for being a place where rules are not always kept.
Task force raids in Patong followed an earlier swoop in the KataKaron region south of Patong in which more than 100 taxi and tuk-tuk drivers and their alleged sponsors were arrested and charged. Police say more swoops are to follow elsewhere on Phuket.