Thais probe offical 'escort' for rhino horn smugglers

2017-03-17 16:04
A Thai customs officer displays seized rhino horns at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. (Sakchai Lalit, AP)

A Thai customs officer displays seized rhino horns at Suvarnabhumi Airport, Bangkok. (Sakchai Lalit, AP)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Bangkok - Thailand is probing whether a senior justice official and two cops worked as meet-and-greeters for smugglers trying to traffic 21 rhino horns worth $500 000 through a Bangkok airport.

The trio, including a deputy state provincial prosecutor, appeared to escort two women as they arrived at Suvarnabhumi airport on March 10, bags bulging with the haul from the critically endangered species.

The two women fled as suspicious customs officers checked the bags, leaving authorities to scour airport CCTV footage to retrace their movements.

They discovered "two police as well as a senior official from the Ministry of Justice walking along the concourse with the luggage", according to a statement from the Attorney General's office late on Thursday.

The statement named deputy state prosecutor for Saraburi province, Police Major Worapas Boonsri, as one of the suspects.

He has been transferred pending the investigation, the other two men are yet to be identified.

Thailand's junta says it is committed to cracking down on corruption and the illegal trade in animal parts through the kingdom - a gateway to Southeast Asian and Chinese markets where rare species are coveted as pets or in traditional medicines.

"It is rare to see governments target corruption," said Steven Galster, director of anti-trafficking group Freeland, applauding Thai authorities for probing possible links between officialdom and criminal gangs.

"But wildlife poaching and trafficking on the huge scale we are seeing, especially with rhino, cannot happen without the help of well-placed corrupt officers."

The horn came from Africa.

Last week Thai customs displayed 422 pieces of elephant discovered at a Suvarnabhumi airport from two Ethiopian Airline flights from Addis Ababa.

In 2015 Thailand incinerated more than two tons of confiscated ivory, the first time the kingdom has taken steps to destroy part of its stockpile.

Read more on:    thailand  |  rhino poaching  |  poaching

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.