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A 42-year-old Thai businessman has been arrested at the immigration checkpoint in Nakhon Phanom province for alleged smuggling of rhino horns worth about 33.48 million baht.
The arrest of Mr Boonchai, alias Chai Back, came after month long investigation that he was the real financier of a rhino horn smuggling network, Royal Thai Police deputy commissioner Pol Gen Chalermkiat Srivorakan told a press conference today (Jan 20).
Investigation jointly conducted by Suvarnabhumi international airport police and Immigration Bureau showed Mr Boonchai had connection with three persons who were arrested for the cache of 14 rhino horns weighing 11.6 kilogrammes worth 33.48 million baht they tried to deliver to customer in Bang Phli district of Samut Prakan on Dec 12 last year.
The three suspects include one Thai who was an official of the airport’s quarantine office, a Chinese and a Vietnamese.
Interrogation of the three suspects revealed that Mr Boonchai was the financier of the rhino horn smuggling gang.
Pol Gen Chalermkiat said warrant for his arrest was later sought with the Samut Prakan provincial Court and was approved on Jan 17.
Immigration authorities in Nakhon Phanom province were instructed to keep close watch on Mr Boonchai as investigation found that he frequently visited Laos on business trip via the immigration channel in Nakhon Phanom.
Mr Boonchai was arrested at an immigration office as he returned from Laos on Thursday (Jan 18), said the deputy police chief.
Samut Prakan provincial police chief Pol Maj Gen Thammanoon Traitipayapong said he would ask the Anti-Money Laundering Office to help in tracking the suspect’s bank transactions in order to crack down on the smuggling gang members and have their assets confiscated.