Mass arrests in Phuket taxi crackdown

A combined police and military task force in Phuket on Wednesday arrested 73 people wanted for operating the so-called “taxi mafias” in an ongoing attempt to sweep illegal operators from the island.

The 73 were among 108 individuals who had been the subject of arrest warrants for involvement in mafia operations targeting tourists in the tourist resort town. Three of the 108 had had arrest warrants issued for them before, said Pol Lt Gen Panya Mamen, commissioner of Provincial Police Region 8. 

The 73 were apprehended after security officers launched a massive operation across Phuket to execute warrants which began in the morning and ended at 2pm. 

The operation involved a total of 1,150 officers from Police Region 8 and the 41st Military Circle plus local administrative authorities.

Pol Lt Gen Panya Mamen said information gathered by a police task force in charge of the crackdown on local taxi mafia gangs and the Phuket Land Transport Office showed that there were 287 taxi queues and 3,594 illegal black-plate taxis (1,277 are on a list for legal green plates).

About 70 taxi queues were operated by influential groups, Pol Lt Gen Panya said, and police had questioned 150 individuals from 51 local business operations whose businesses had been affected or were intimidated by the gangs.

“Provincial Police Region 8 will try to protect and safeguard Phuket’s tourism, improving its standards to a point acceptable by all sides,” Pol Lt Gen Panya said, adding order, and better systems that meet international standards, would be necessary to make Phuket a province of sustainable tourism. 

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