Thai police bust leading wildlife trafficker

first_imgThai police have arrested Boonchai Bach, the alleged kingpin behind one of the world’s biggest and most notorious wildlife trafficking syndicates.Bach and his family operation have been the target of authorities and anti-trafficking groups for more than a decade for moving vast quantities of rhino horns and elephant tusks to markets in China, Vietnam and Laos, via their hub in Thailand.One of the family’s main customers remains at large, however. Vixay Keosavang, said to be the most prominent wildlife dealer in Southeast Asia, is beyond the reach of Thai authorities, in Laos. Police in Thailand last week detained a key figure in one of the world’s most notorious wildlife trafficking syndicates, accused of smuggling large numbers of rhino horns and elephant tusks from Africa to Asia.Boonchai Bach, who also goes by the name Bach Van Minh, was arrested Friday at his operational base in Nakhon Pathom province, for allegedly trafficking 14 rhino horns from Africa to Thailand last month. The case also implicated a Thai official, a Chinese national and a Vietnamese courier.“This arrest is a significant for many reasons,” police colonel Chutrakul Yodmadee said in a statement.“The confiscated items are high in value. And we are able to arrest the whole network involved, starting from the courier, the facilitator, the exporter who [planned] to export goods through Thai-Laos border. We even got the moneyman [investor] behind the gang. That means we are able to arrest the whole network.”Boonchai Bach, 40, was arrested last week by Thai authorities over alleged attempts to smuggle more than a dozen rhino horns. Photo courtesy of Matthew Pritchett/Freeland.Boonchai, a 40-year-old Vietnamese who also holds Thai citizenship, has been accused of operating an international trafficking network on the Thai-Laos border that expanded into Vietnam.The anti-trafficking group Freeland Foundation has described Boonchai and his family as the main suppliers to Southeast Asia’s major dealers in Laos, Vietnam and China, including the notorious Vixay Keosavang. Freeland had tracked the family since 2003, collecting evidence on their operations, which included transporting tiger bones across borders.From 2010 to 2013, Freeland and Thai law enforcement authorities identified Keosavang as the region’s most significant wildlife dealer. However, he remains out of reach of Thai authorities, in Laos. In 2013, the New York Times ran an exposé of Keosavang’s animal-smuggling syndicate, which the group and Thai officers codenamed “Hydra.”In the Times article, it was revealed that convicted Thai citizen Chumlong Lemtongthai had supplied Keosavang with large amounts of rhino horn from South Africa, using Thai commercial sex workers to pose as hunters and sign fraudulent hunting and export documents. Lemtongthai was arrested by South African authorities in 2012 and sentenced to an unprecedented 40 years in prison.The U.S. government in 2013 put up a $1 million reward to end Keosavang’s operations.In 2014, Freeland and Thai investigators learned that Keosavang’s supply chain was fed by the Bach family, who had representatives in Africa, Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. Lemtongthai was one of them, and had been hired by the Bachs who were working with Keosavang to order dozens of rhinos at a time to be killed for their horns, and to then transport them to Laos, via Thailand, for onward sale to Vietnam and China.In early December 2017, officers at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport allowed suitcases containing the rhino horns to pass through customs, then followed them to Nikorn Wongprajan, a Thai officer allegedly involved with the Bach network. Wongprajan admitted to being hired to pass the horns from the airport to a Bach family member at a nearby apartment, leading to their arrest along with the Chinese courier.Freeland said the Thai airport officers “are to be congratulated for breaking open the country’s largest wildlife crime case ever.”“This arrest spells hope for wildlife,” said Steven Galster, the founder of Freeland. “We hope Thailand, its neighboring countries and counterparts in Africa will build on this arrest and tear Hydra completely apart.”Rhino horns can fetch an estimated $100,000 per kilogram (about $45,360 per pound). Thousands of rhinos in Africa are killed each year, both by legally sanctioned hunters and by poachers, and most species are listed as “Critically Endangered,” or being on the brink of extinction.The illegal trade in wildlife and their body parts is worth an estimated $23 billion a year, and is the world’s most lucrative black market industry after drugs, human smuggling and arms trafficking. Despite this, international law enforcement has been slow to crack down on it.Banner image: Rhinoceros eating at a national park in South Africa. Photo courtesy of Komencanto/Wikimedia Commons.FEEDBACK: Use this form to send a message to the author of this post. If you want to post a public comment, you can do that at the bottom of the page. Popular in the CommunitySponsoredSponsoredOrangutan found tortured and decapitated prompts Indonesia probeEMGIES17 Jan, 2018We will never know the full extent of what this poor Orangutan went through before he died, the same must be done to this evil perpetrator(s) they don’t deserve the air that they breathe this has truly upset me and I wonder for the future for these wonderful creatures. So called ‘Mankind’ has a lot to answer for we are the only ones ruining this world I prefer animals to humans any day of the week.What makes community ecotourism succeed? In Madagascar, location, location, locationScissors1dOther countries should also learn and try to incorporateWhy you should care about the current wave of mass extinctions (commentary)Processor1 DecAfter all, there is no infinite anything in the whole galaxy!Infinite stupidity, right here on earth.The wildlife trade threatens people and animals alike (commentary)Anchor3dUnfortunately I feel The Chinese have no compassion for any living animal. They are a cruel country that as we knowneatbeverything that moves and do not humanily kill these poor animals and insects. They have no health and safety on their markets and they then contract these diseases. Maybe its karma maybe they should look at the way they live and stop using animals for all there so called remedies. DisgustingConservationists welcome China’s wildlife trade banThobolo27 JanChina has consistently been the worlds worst, “ Face of Evil “ in regards our planets flora and fauna survival. In some ways, this is nature trying to fight back. This ban is great, but the rest of the world just cannot allow it to be temporary, because history has demonstrated that once this coronavirus passes, they will in all likelihood, simply revert to been the planets worst Ecco Terrorists. Let’s simply not allow this to happen! How and why they have been able to degrade this planets iconic species, rape the planets rivers, oceans and forests, with apparent impunity, is just mind boggling! Please no more.Probing rural poachers in Africa: Why do they poach?Carrot3dOne day I feel like animals will be more scarce, and I agree with one of my friends, they said that poaching will take over the world, but I also hope notUpset about Amazon fires last year? Focus on deforestation this year (commentary)Bullhorn4dLies and more leisSponsoredSponsoredCoke is again the biggest culprit behind plastic waste in the PhilippinesGrapes7 NovOnce again the article blames companies for the actions of individuals. It is individuals that buy these products, it is individuals that dispose of them improperly. If we want to change it, we have to change, not just create bad guys to blame.Brazilian response to Bolsonaro policies and Amazon fires growsCar4 SepThank you for this excellent report. I feel overwhelmed by the ecocidal intent of the Bolsonaro government in the name of ‘developing’ their ‘God-given’ resources.U.S. allocates first of $30M in grants for forest conservation in SumatraPlanet4dcarrot hella thick ;)Melting Arctic sea ice may be altering winds, weather at equator: studyleftylarry30 JanThe Arctic sea ice seems to be recovering this winter as per the last 10-12 years, good news.Malaysia has the world’s highest deforestation rate, reveals Google forest mapBone27 Sep, 2018Who you’re trying to fool with selective data revelation?You can’t hide the truth if you show historical deforestation for all countries, especially in Europe from 1800s to this day. WorldBank has a good wholesome data on this.Mass tree planting along India’s Cauvery River has scientists worriedSurendra Nekkanti23 JanHi Mongabay. Good effort trying to be objective in this article. I would like to give a constructive feedback which could help in clearing things up.1. It is mentioned that planting trees in village common lands will have negative affects socially and ecologically. There is no need to even have to agree or disagree with it, because, you also mentioned the fact that Cauvery Calling aims to plant trees only in the private lands of the farmers. So, plantation in the common lands doesn’t come into the picture.2.I don’t see that the ecologists are totally against this project, but just they they have some concerns, mainly in terms of what species of trees will be planted. And because there was no direct communication between the ecologists and Isha Foundation, it was not possible for them to address the concerns. As you seem to have spoken with an Isha spokesperson, if you could connect the concerned parties, it would be great, because I see that the ecologists are genuinely interested in making sure things are done the right way.May we all come together and make things happen.Rare Amazon bush dogs caught on camera in BoliviaCarrot1 Feba very good iniciative to be fallowed by the ranchers all overSponsored Article published by Basten Gokkoncenter_img Animal Cruelty, Animal Rights, Animals, Conservation, Crime, Environment, Environmental Crime, Illegal Trade, Law Enforcement, Rhinos, Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Wildlife Crime, Wildlife Trade, Wildlife Trafficking last_img read more