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Fuel tanker Noknannam 16, berthed at the Phuket deep sea port

Phuket Fuel Fraudsters: One Down, Six More to Go at Sea

Wednesday, July 11, 2012
PHUKET: At least six illegal diesel-selling vessels are believed to still be operating off Phuket, escaping Thai tax on the high seas.

But that's one less than 48 hours ago, when the Noknannam 16 was intercepted and arrested in Thai waters, along with its crew of seven Burmese.

Customs officials showed off the 15 million baht haul today at Phuket's deep sea port on Cape Panwa.

The ship, carrying 230,000 litres of fuel, was nabbed off Racha Noi island about 3.30am on Monday, Phuket's media was told.

Authorities had been tailing the vessel for two months, said Customs Director of Investigation, Ranop Srisupaad, waiting to make sure the ship was in Thai waters before making an arrest.

The vessel's owners and backers were a Thai, Malaysian and Burmese group, journalists heard today, taking advantage of the lack of tax to sell fuel to fishing vessels and other buyers off the coast between Phuket and Ranong, on the border with Burma.

The officials, who have notched several arrests this year, are still on the tail of four boats capable of carrying up to 200,000 litres and two others with space for 100,000 litres each.

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