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Thai police arrest suspected kingpin of wildlife trafficking

Thai customs hold up confiscated elephant tusks during a news conference at the Customs Department in Bangkok, Thailand, January 12, 2018. Thai customs officials have seized 148 kg of ivory worth 15 million Thai baht ($469,000) coming from Nigeria, at Bangkok Suvarnnabhumi airport, authorities said on Friday. (AP)
BANGKOK: Thai police have arrested a suspected kingpin of wildlife trafficking who allegedly fueled much of Asia’s illegal trade for over a decade.
Police say Boonchai Bach (BOON’-chai back), a 40-year-old Thai of Vietnamese descent, was arrested Friday in a northeastern border province in connection with the smuggling of 14 rhino horns worth over $1 million from Africa into Thailand last month, in a case that also implicated a Thai official and a Chinese national.
He denies the charges against him.
Boonchai allegedly ran a large trafficking network on the Thai-Laos border that spread into Vietnam. According to the anti-trafficking group Freeland, he and his family played a key role in a syndicate that smuggled poached items including ivory, rhino horn, pangolins, tigers, lions and other rare and endangered species.

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