Joint operation nets 26 illegal cars

Joint operation nets 26 illegal cars

DSI urges owners to return more vehicles

Customs officials inspect a Mercedes-Benz at the Bangkok Free Trade Zone in Samut Prakan province during a conference held by the Customs Department and the Department of Special Investigation in June 2017. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)
Customs officials inspect a Mercedes-Benz at the Bangkok Free Trade Zone in Samut Prakan province during a conference held by the Customs Department and the Department of Special Investigation in June 2017. (Photo: Apichit Jinakul)

The Department of Special Investigation (DSI) has seized 26 supercars illegally imported from England as part of Operation Titanium, a years-long investigation aiming to track down the vehicles and those involved in the crime, said Justice Minister Somsak Thepsutin.

On Monday, Mr Somsak, together with DSI director-general Trairit Temahiwong and his deputy Pol Lt Col Phayao Thongsen, told members of the press that a total of 26 out of 35 supercars have been seized by Thai police in the past few years.

In 2016, the National Vehicle Crime Intelligence Service (NaVCIS) joined forces with London's Metropolitan Police to conduct the operation after discovering criminals in England had been involved in the importation, he said.

Mr Somsak said a gang in England looked over the sale or rent contracts before its network issued bills of lading and invoices to ship the cars from Heathrow Airport to Singapore.

All 35 cars were shipped to Thailand by sea, Mr Somsak said.

The DSI was then contacted by the United Kingdom National Crime Agency (NCA) to look into the matter as Thailand and the UK had signed the Treaty on Mutual Legal Assistance in Criminal Matters, he said.

Mr Somsak said seven of the 35 stolen vehicles were seized by the DSI in 2017.

Officers had raided locations in Bangkok and found seven cars with vehicle identification numbers matching the vehicle registration numbers of the stolen cars, he said.

They were found at two showrooms owned by STT Auto Car, he added.

Later, the DSI was informed by the Customs Department that another six stolen cars were being kept in the Bangkok Free Trade Zone, he said, adding they were all then seized by police.

In June 2018, the DSI director-general began looking at the crime as a special case, Mr Somsak said.

Later that year, the UK government agency provided the DSI with documents and evidence related to the case, he said.

Mr Somsak said that even though the unlawful act was committed outside Thailand, the crime still violated the Thai Criminal Code.

The attorney-general signed the DSI to investigate the case in February this year, he said.

Owners and buyers of 26 of the supercars were notified of the thefts and decided to return the vehicles to the DSI, he said.

However, nine of the car owners have yet to return the rest of the vehicles, he said, warning that those who refuse may face charges.


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