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In Khon Kaen’s Muang district on Friday a truck-load of protected animals, including more than 350 turtles and 100 snakes, was seized. The highway police arrested pickup truck driver Phumin Thanamai, 56, and Wallop Naruemitprachakorn, 41, after stopping their vehicle for a search in front of the second Khon Kaen bus terminal at 1am.
The arresting police officers found 359 turtles, nine soft-shelled turtles, 100 monitor lizards as well as more than 100 king cobras, water snakes and pythons.
Highway police officer Pol Lt Col Padol Jandon said the suspects tried to bribe officers not to take action against them before telling the officers they were hired for 60,000 baht to transport the animals from a market in Bangkok to Nong Khai province.
The animals were to be transported across the Mekong River and sold overseas, and their sale could have fetched more than 1.5 million baht, the officer said. Police are yet to find out where the animals were taken from but will be be taken to a national park office in Khon Kaen pending further investigation.