By SURIYA PATATHAYO
The crackdown targeted former and current chiefs of local administrative bodies.
“The operations are mostly in relation to alleged irregularities in the procurement of vacuum trucks,” Pol Maj-General Kamol Rienracha, who heads the police force’s Counter Corruption Division (CCD), said.
There have been allegations of bidding collusion, which reportedly left the public sector with substandard vacuum equipment.
The operations were carried out in Chon Buri, Nonthaburi, Rayong, Samut Prakan, Sing Buri, Si Sa Ket, Phetchaburi, Chiang Mai, Phitsanulok and Samut Sakhon provinces.
Kamol said his agency aimed to gather solid evidence of corruption so that the Office of Public Sector Anti-Corruption Commission and the National Anti-Corruption Commission could take further actions.
In Samut Sakhon province, more than 30 policemen and backup officials searched the house and office of village head Ruangrit Ubonsai.
CCD deputy commander Pol Colonel Chak Pengsathorn said Ruangrit was suspected of committing corruption during his time as the chief executive of Tambon Tasai Administrative Organisation five years ago.
“This organisation procured a vacuum truck in 2013,” Chak said.
In Samut Prakan province, Prateep Yangyuen – a former mayor of Tambon Bang Muang – was the target. CCD deputy commander Pol Colonel Praphan Yoocharoendee led a team in searching Prateep’s house.
Prateep was at home when police turned up.
“At the time Prateep was the mayor, his municipality constructed new roads and bought a vacuum truck. The Bt18-million procurement is allegedly mired in corruption,” Praphan said.
His team spent more than three hours at Prateep’s house.
In Phitsanulok province, Pol Colonel Rittikorn Saisanan na Ayutthaya from the CDD searched the house of Narin Wattanakulchai, the current mayor of Aranyik Municipality, following allegations that his local administrative body had bought a vacuum truck at an inflated price.
Narin was not at home when officials arrived. His deputy said he was on leave and had travelled to Bangkok.
“We conducted the search to gather evidence of alleged crimes,” Rittikorn said.
Vacuum-truck driver Nattawat Wanpaiboon said he did not know how much the vehicle cost.
“But I think it works quite well. We use this truck about 20 days a month in sucking mud out of roads,” he said. He said the municipality commissioned this vacuum truck in late 2013.
There are only three such vehicles in Phitsanulok province. Two others are in service of the Phitsanulok Municipality and Phitsanulok Provincial Administrative Organisation.