BANGKOK – Three Vietnamese nationals have been arrested for smuggling rhino horns worth an estimated 15milllion baht ($430,000) into Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on Sunday.
The suspects were the latest to be caught smuggling animal parts of an endangered species into Thailand, which is a common transit point for the black-market sale of wild flora and fauna.
The three suspects – one man and two women – had been carrying 15 pieces of rhino weighing 7.4 kilogrammes horn while travelling from Luanda, Angola, via Addis Ababa to Hanoi, Vietnam, when they were arrested, according to the Bangkok Post.
The arrests were made by customs officials at Suvarnabhumi airport after a tip-off that a shipment of rhino horns would be delivered by air from Luanda, Angola, via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en route to Hanoi, Vietnam. Suvarnabhumi was one of the transit points.
The suspects said they were hired by Angolans to carry the luggage from Luanda to Hanoi.
Just two days earlier, customs police found 28 pieces of elephant ivory worth about 4mn baht being shipped from Congo to Thailand.
The arrested suspects Trueng Ba Ngia, 27, and the women as Nguyen Thi Thu Chang, 30, and Pham Thi Thang Huay, 56 all Vietnamese Nationals.
Earlier in September, 136 pangolins – a species facing a critical risk of extinction – were found in two trucks being smuggled from Malaysia to China via Thailand in Prajuab Kirikhan province.
Thai authorities have made arrests in at least 43 smuggling cases of endangered species, wild flora and fauna worth, with total worth of about 300mn baht.
Thailand is a party to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and was recently urged to take steps to end illicit trade on endangered animals.