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Thai Police Arrest Notorious Asian Trafficking Kingpin

 

Animal trafficking takes many forms and encourages other illegal activities like poaching. That’s why fans of wildlife may be heartened to see the arrest of a man believed to be at the centre of the black market trade.

Yesterday Thai police arrested Boonchai Bach, a 40-year-old Thai man of Vietnamese descent who is believed to be a key figure in one of the biggest illegal wildlife trading networks in Asia.

Police process suspected wildlife trafficker Boonchai Bach, a 40-year-old Thai of Vietnamese descent, Saturday, Jan. 20, 2018, in Bangkok, Thailand. During a press conference Saturday, police announced the arrest of Boonchai who allegedly fueled much of Asia’s illegal wildlife trade for over the last decade. (AP Photo/Tassanee Vejpongsa)

 

Credit: PA

Bach was detained in a town on the border with Laos and may now faces up to four years in jail for smuggling protected animal parts, including parts like rhino horns and elephant ivory.

The anti-trafficking group Freeland, which helped find the evidence to arrest Bach, believes that his arrest will cause serious disruption to his alleged smuggling operation.

The Bachs have ‘long run the international supply chain of illicit wildlife from Asia and Africa to major dealers in Laos, Vietnam and China’, Freeland said in a statement.

Bach is believed to be the ringleader of a ‘major smuggling syndicate’ which has been operating for more than ten years, police have stated according to the BBC.

Bach was arrested under suspicion of smuggling 14 rhino horns from Africa to Thailand, a haul worth around $1m (£700,000).

Police stopped the batch of rhino horn from reaching its intended destination last month and say they have enough evidence to charge Bach after tracking the people involved.

Credit: PA

Bach’s business ran from a small border town on the Mekong river which is notorious for being used to smuggle illegal goods into the neighbouring country of Laos.

Laos is one of the main ways in which buyers in Vietnam and China are able to obtain animal parts which have been poached from Africa and Asia.

Despite Thai police’s recent efforts in intercepting illegal wildlife shipments, they haven’t yet managed to break up the trafficking networks behind the shipments until now, the BBC reported.

Rhino horns are, sadly, extremely popular in the illegal wildlife trade. Their horns can fetch up to $60,000 (£45,306) per pound – more than their weight in gold.

The problem is largely driven by the art and antiques market in China, with rhino horns regularly used to make high-value carvings like bracelets, as well as being used in traditional medicine.

If an allegedly powerful wildlife trafficking figure like Bach has been taken down, then surely that’s good news for wild animals everywhere.

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