A combined military and police force has raided a timber factory owned by an influential tycoon in an industrial zone in Muang district of Pattani province.
The factory, which belongs to Sahachai Jiansermsin, alias Sia Jo, aged 44, is located on a large block of land in an industrial zone operated by the Pattani Provincial Administration Organisation (PAO) on Na Klua road in tambon Bana.
It was raided on Wednesday morning.
The operation was led by Maj Gen Pornsak Poonsawat, commander of rangers forces of southern border provinces, and Col Jatuporn Kalampasut, chief of an operation unit of the Region 4 Internal Security Operations Command, and was carried out under Order No 16 of the National Council for Peace and Order (NCPO).
The team was searching for illegal items which may have been stored there for activities affecting national security.
They found a large quanty of different kinds of wood piled up in the compound. They also found four large tanks modified to fit in fishing boats and a large number of pipes, but no traces of smuggled oil.
Authorities sealed off the area to prevent any items being removed from the factory pending examination to verify their origins and legality.
Another police-military unit went to the boat pier of the Pattani PAO at the mouth of the Pattani river and seized five wooden and steel boats for further examination. The boats were suspected to have been modified for oil smuggling.
Mr Sahachai, who was not at the factory when the raid took place, showed up to report to the authorities about 11am.
The authorities searched his office and seized for examination a large number of documents including accounts for trades in timber and oil, bank accounts, and some cash in Thai baht, Malaysian ringgit and US dollars.
Mr Sahachai was later taken to Ingkhayuthaboriharn army camp in Pattani's Nong Chik district for questioning.
Items seized yesterday at the timber factory were still being examned on Thursday.
Mr Sahachai, alias Sia Jo, is a well-known businessman in Pattani. Authorities said he is suspected of involvement in various illegal activities including trading in illegal wood, underground lottery operations and illegal casinos.