NAKHON PATHON – Authorities in Northeastern Thailand arrested a Vietnamese woman at the Nakhon Phanom-Tha Kaek border crossing on Sunday after ivory was found in her luggage.
The ivory was discovered after Customs and Immigration officers along with the Nakhon Phanom police carried out a routine check on a passenger bus that was waiting to be cleared for entry at the 3rd Thai-Laos Friendship Bridge border checkpoint in Nakhon Phanom.
Nine hundred and thirty pieces of ivory weighing in at 22 kg and estimated to be worth more than 1 million baht in total was found in the luggage of 43 year old Than Nguen Kee Thanh.
The suspect claimed that she was hired as a mule and was told to take the luggage to the Nakhon Phanom bus terminal where she would hand it over to another person. Investigators were unconvinced and believed that she was part of a major ivory smuggling ring.
The seized ivory was determined to be African ivory and had transited into Vietnam before being smuggled into Thailand. It is estimated that current black market prices for the ornaments are between 50,000-60,000 baht per kg.