BANGKOK – Thai Customs House authorities arrested two men on Thursday saying they were behind a transnational ivory trade network after seizing more than 100 kilograms (220 pounds) of African ivory in the biggest bust in recent years.
Thailand is one of the top destinations for African ivory smuggling in Asia and could face international sanctions soon if it doesn’t show progress in combatting the problem.
Police arrested Boon Ching Teo, 51, of Malaysia, and Sirichai Sridanont, 50, of Thailand, after seizing 51 pieces of African ivory Dec. 31 in the northeastern province of Surin, national police chief Gen. Somyot Pumpanmuang said. The ivory weighed in total about 135 kilograms (297 pounds) and was worth about 5.8 million baht ($176,000).
The suspects were accused of trading and smuggling African ivory through Thailand’s southern border and face a maximum prison term of four years if they are convicted. Teo’s traveling documents showed he had made frequent visits to Thailand and had visited Kenya and other African countries, Somyot told reporters at a news conference.