A wildlife trafficker from Malaysia arrested in Bangkok in June on suspicion of wildlife trafficking has been extradited to the United States.
Teo Boon Ching, age 57, was transported to Suvarnabhumi airport and placed on a flight to the United States accompanied by two US marshalls.
The Malaysian suspect was arrested on June 29 at a hotel on Pradit Manutham Road in Bangkok’s Wang Thonglang district.
The commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, stated that he wanted the US Justice Department for his involvement in wildlife trafficking and money laundering.
Mr. Teo has a warrant for arrest by the US Fish and Wildlife Service for his participation in a global network of illegal trade in rhinoceros horn, elephant tusks, and endangered African wild animals, as well as for laundering money for wildlife traffickers.
The US Fish and Wildlife officials collaborated with Thai police officers from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division, the Foreign Affairs Division, and the Immigration Bureau to investigate the incident.
The United States announced sanctions against Mr. Teo and others on Friday.
The US Treasury Department stated on its website that Mr. Teo, his alleged trafficking organization, and Sunrise Greenland Sdn Bhd engaged in “cruel trafficking of endangered and threatened wildlife and the products of brutal poaching.”
Mr. Teo specializes in transporting rhino horn, ivory, and pangolins, also known as scaly anteaters, from Africa to Vietnam and China via Malaysia and Laos, according to the statement.
In the United States, he is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking and two counts of money laundering. According to the statement, his money laundering charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years, while the trafficking conspiracy charge carries a maximum sentence of 5 years.
The Justice Department accuses Mr. Teo of participating in a conspiracy to traffic more than 70 kilograms of rhinoceros horns valued at more than $725,000, involving poaching endangered animals and laundering the proceeds.
He is rumoured to have led a transnational criminal organization based in Asia with significant operations in Malaysia and Thailand. According to the Justice Department, their activities included rhinoceros horn poaching, international trafficking, and smuggling.
According to the United Nations’ 2020 World Wildlife Crime Report, seizures of pangolin scales multiplied by ten between 2014 and 2018.