UBON-RATCHATHANI – August 9, 2012 [PDN]; At 9 a.m., an illegal shipment of rice was seized at the boat docking port at Ban Song Kon, Posai, Ubon, Ratchathani.
The seizure was made by the Mekong Riverine Unit of Ubon Ratchathani, under the leadership of Capt. Sutat Im-urai and Maj. Treekritch Kongsee, leader of the Khemarat boat station, who brought MRU forces, both plain-clothed and uniformed.
The MRU forces searched and seized 36 bags of sticky rice, each weighing 50 kg for a total weight of 1,800 kg.
The military forces also searched and seized a silver bronze Nissan automobile, registration code bor thor 307 Ubon Ratchathani, and a big long-tailed motor boat. The seized items were sent to the Khemaraj customs border.
While the MRU was searching and seizing, no one claimed ownership of the goods. However, a local politician appeared and tried to bargain with MRU superiors. He begged the officers to let go of all the seized goods, but the MRU refused his request.
The MRU director of Ubon Ratchathani explained that the missing owners were a group of capitalists who own a local mill. However, they would obtain their rice both locally and from outside the area, crossing the border into Laos to scoop up all the rice, both husked and unhusked. They would store the rice in Laos and smuggle it into Thailand every time they had an opportunity.
Without good informants or communication, it is hard for MRU officers to find out about the illegal shipments and arrest the smugglers.
The MRU has seized more than 10 tons of rice, most of it unhusked. The smuggled rice is costing Thailand millions of baht in lost revenue and is damaging the country’s economy, authorities said.