A Taiwanese man is facing prosecution after being captured with live animals in his pants at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport. He was caught after security guards got suspicious of a noticeable, wobbly bulge below the traveler’s waist, authorities discovered three animals taped inside his boxer shorts: two otters and a prairie dog.
It comes two months after another animal smuggling incident at the same airport. According to reports, Thailand has been a center for illegal wildlife trafficking of various animals into China.
On December 5, a 22-year-old man was flying from Bangkok to Taipei, Taiwan, on Thai Airways flight 632. The passenger bought the animals from a store in Bangkok and stuffed them underneath his jeans before arriving at Bangkok and checking in for his trip.
Staff at the international outbound zone 2 passenger security checkpoint were allegedly concerned about the man’s “unusually large package” that was sliding below his waist, prompting them to warn colleagues operating the X-ray equipment.
They detained the traveler and subjected him to scans, which revealed live bugs scurrying around under his pants.
Officers then took the man away for a strip search, during which they recovered two Asian small-clawed otters and a prairie dog hidden in black socks and glued beneath the man’s fashionable boxer shorts.
The passenger was reportedly seized at the Bangkok Police Station and faces charges under Thailand’s Customs Act, Animal Epidemics Act, and Animal Conservation and Protection Act.
The rescued animals were turned over to the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation, where the Wildlife Conservation Office cared for them.
Thailand is a key corridor for illegal wildlife transit, with people frequently smuggling live animals to nearby China. The most recent occurrence occurred on October 4, when a woman successfully smuggled an otter, rat, and other animals through Bangkok.
She brought the live animals on her flight to Taiwan, and they escaped in the middle of the flight, causing mayhem among the passengers. After examining the airplane after it landed, police discovered a box containing 28 turtles.
Airport officials later revealed that security agents at Bangkok observed the live animals in the woman’s luggage. They did not, however, open the bag and nevertheless permitted it on the plane.
The employee in question was later suspended, and other employees were apparently given stringent directions on what to look for while handling live animals.
Automated Passport Checkout at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport
Meanwhile, Thailand announced on Monday that, beginning December 15, automatic channels for passport checks for outbound foreign passengers at Suvarnabhumi airport will be operational to expedite boarding of departure flights.
Immigration Bureau chief Pol Lt Gen Itthipol Itthisanronnachai stated that beginning in 2012, but only for Thai nationals, Suvarnabhumi airport implemented sixteen automatic channels for processing passports of outbound passengers.
Fifty seconds are required to perform a facial and biometric scan on every passenger. Channels staffed by immigration officers typically require forty-five seconds to complete.
Suvarnabhumi airport currently processes between 50,000 and 60,000 outbound passengers daily. When there are over twenty departure flights per hour, congestion is severe. Passengers may experience flight disruptions due to a prolonged immigration and security vetting process.
He stated that the Immigration and Customs Enforcement was enhancing the procedure in order to expedite the processing of passengers. This was consistent with the tourism promotion policy of the government.
According to Pol Lt Gen Itthipol, he had a conversation with Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin at the airport prior to their mid-November departure for the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in San Francisco.
Concerned about the sluggish departure of passengers, the prime minister instructed him to investigate the possibility of implementing automatic channels to inspect the passports of outbound foreigners.
Passenger Increase at Suvarnabhumi airport
Beginning on December 15, Suvarnabhumi airport will have operational new automatic channels for verifying the passports of departing foreigners.
Pol General Choengron Rimphadee, commander of Immigration Police Division 2 (international airports), stated that the new automatic channels were accessible to passengers possessing e-passports and met International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) requirements.
E-passport-carrying foreign nationals, minors, and individuals with disabilities would continue to be required to utilize the standard, personnel-staffed channels.
The anticipated increase in passenger volume at Suvarnabhumi airport was from 5,000 to 12,000. He said that despite the accelerated immigration process, the machines were still capable of identifying individuals sought on arrest warrants, those prohibited from international travel, and those whose visas had expired.
For reasons of security, arriving passengers would continue to be subject to review by immigration officers. According to Pol Maj Gen Choengron, the implementation of additional automated channels for departures would enable the reallocation of more immigration personnel to the arrival channels, thereby enhancing the ability to manage the influx of passengers during peak hours.