The Associated Press
May 11, 2018

BANGKOK: A court in Thailand has sentenced a Thai man believed to be a
kingpin in the illicit wildlife trade to 2 .5 years in prison for smuggling
rhinoceros horns, an organization that works with police to combat
trafficking said Friday.

The group Freeland said the court in Samut Prakarn province convicted
Boonchai Bach this week in the shipment of 11 kilograms (24.2 pounds) of
rhino horns from Africa worth $700,000.

The rhino horns were seized in December when a Chinese smuggler was
arrested at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport. A wildlife quarantine officer
at the airport accused of assisting the smugglers was also arrested.

The group said a relative of Boonchai’s was caught when he sought to pick
up the shipment, implicating Boonchai as the financier and leading to his
arrest in January.

Rhino horns are used as medicine in some Asian cultures and viewed as
aphrodisiacs. Demand has escalated in recent years, with the “belief that
ownership conveys social and financial status,” Freeland said in a

“The horn was destined for northeast Thailand where it would be smuggled
across the Mekong River to Laos for onward shipment to buyers, either in
Vietnam or China,” Freeland said.

Boonchai, 41, was accused of running a large trafficking network on the
Thai-Lao border that spread into Vietnam.

According to Freeland, he and his family played a key role in a criminal
syndicate that smuggled items including ivory, rhino horn, pangolins,
tigers, lions and other rare and endangered species.

This news service is provided by Save the Elephants.