BANGKOK – The Royal Thai Police in Chumphon Province for foiling a cross border elephant tusk smuggling operation, and for arresting a main culprit and exposing corruption.
On February 2 at 3:30pm, police from Muang Chumphon Police station pulled a vehicle over at Baan Pala checkpoint in Pratew district. An identify check confirmed that the driver of a suspicious vehicle was a Police Captain from the southern Thailand province of Sadao. He was carrying an unregistered firearm and ammunition. Officers also discovered 20 elephant tusks concealed in fertilizer bags inside the vehicle that he was driving.
The suspect claimed that he was hired to smuggle the elephant tusks from Malaysia into Thailand. The suspect was arrested and charged for violating Thailand’s Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act (WARPA) and for carrying unregistered weapons. The black market value of the tusks is not being publicized, but was described as “very high.” Other details are being withheld while investigations continue.
The Freeland Foundation, which provides tip-offs and training to law enforcement agencies to counter wildlife crime, has observed that elephant tusks are being laundered into Asian markets to be mixed with legal stocks or are sold quickly as carvings. The price of ivory remains high as most consumers remain unaware that most ivory carvings come from illegal elephant slaughters. Currently, Africa is experiencing high levels of violent and rampant elephant poaching, sponsored by organized crime groups that are smuggling the tusks into Asia. In the last year, tusks from thousands of dead elephants have been seized as they were smuggled from Africa into Asia.
“We congratulate Major General Erb Kongklum, Commander of Chumphon Province and his staff for this valiant act of fighting corruption to protect wildlife,” said Freeland Director Steven Galster. “We need more officers like them to fight this new form of transnational organized crime.”
Thailand is set to host the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Flora and Fauna (CITES) in Bangkok in March. Trade in ivory and enforcement matters will be high on the agenda of the 180 country UN body.
For more information, please contact: Siwaporn Teerawichitchainan, Freeland Communications Director, at +66 2 204 2719 or[email protected]
More photos, please go to http://www.thairath.co.th/content/region/324240