Three more shipping companies are facing legal action over the smuggling of contraband pork, according to the Department of Special Investigation (DSI).
Arrest warrants were issued for three executives from the firms in connection with the smuggling, DSI director-general Pol Maj Suriya Singhakamol said on Monday.
Previously, six executives from five shipping firms were arrested, but they were all released after acknowledging a charge of importing pork without permission, he said.
The three latest companies were linked to a smuggling ring who were involved in the illegal import of frozen pork in 2,386 cargo containers between 2020 and early this year.
The firms were allegedly hired by businesses to transport illegal pork.
Pol Maj Suriya said arrest warrants were also issued for two business figures who ordered the shipping firms to bring in the pork.
The two, who reportedly fled overseas, have contacted the DSI to say they want to turn themselves in to fight the charges.
The DSI chief said the two will meet investigators by tomorrow.
One of them is suspected to have ordered 7.5 tonnes of illegal pork to be stored in a cold storage facility in Samut Sakhon.
Investigators are now looking to see who owns the cold storage facility and who distributed the pork to other locations.
Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin was visibly irked by the reportedly slow response to suppress illegal pork imports during talks with officials shortly before leaving the country to attend an Apec meeting in San Francisco on Sunday.
Pol Maj Suriya said that since the government began cracking down, more illegal pork products have been placed in transit warehouses along the border in a neighbouring country before they are smuggled in small amounts to evade detection.
He said the DSI has discovered that the pork smuggling is backed by influential persons with some state officials on hand to assist the illegal activity.