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Police arrest ivory and drug smugglers

Thai police arrested a Malaysian and Thai man last week who they said were behind a major smuggling operation for African ivory to Asia, while separately police in Bangkok and Chonburi nabbed one Russian and three Iranians they claim were part of a drug smuggling syndicate specializing in crystal methamphetamines. 
 
The arrests were further evidence of the current government sustaining Thailand’s commitments to fight transnational crime syndicates.  Cracking down on transnational organized crime is an area where Thailand has been cooperating strongly with the United States, especially following the visit to Bangkok by President Barack Obama in 2012 during the term of the previous government.  President Obama praised Thai cooperation with the U.S. in this area critical to global security.
 
Although arrests have been made separately for smuggling drugs, people, endangered species, and ancient artifacts, law enforcement officials have said there is often overlap in the various criminal activities.  Syndicates engaged in one illegal enterprise, such as drug smuggling, are often also engaged in others, such as human trafficking.
 
Police who arrested the ivory smugglers said the two men were key figures in an international ivory smuggling network that traffics tusks from African elephants and rhinoceros to Asia, with Thailand being one of their top destinations. The officers had seized over 220 pounds of ivory in the form of tusks and other pieces on December 31 in the northeastern province of Surin, in what they described as one of the largest seizures in recent years.
 
Their investigations into the smuggled ivory led them to arrest Boon Ching Teo, 51, of Malaysia, and Sirichai Sridanont, 50, of Thailand. National Police Chief Gen. Somyot Pumpanmuang said that Teo’s passport documented that he made numerous trips between Kenya, the source of much African ivory, and Thailand in recent years.
 
Also last week, simultaneous raids in Bangkok and nearby Chonburi resulted in the arrests of one Russian and three Iranian men police said were involved in a narcotics trafficking operation that specialized in selling crystal methamphetamines mainly to foreign residents and tourists.
 
Police seized 17.5 ounces of crystal methamphetamines from the men, which they said had a street value of roughly US$49,000.
 
Meanwhile, Thailand’s Anti-Money Laundering Office (AMLO) announced Monday that it had seized assets totaling $1.3 million from two individuals arrested for smuggling Myanmar migrant workers, and from more than a dozen members of two gangs illegally trading in Siamese rosewood, a protected plant species, according to the Bangkok Post. Arrest warrants have so far been issued for five other individuals allegedly linked to the two suspects involved in the case of smuggling of migrant workers.
 
See the original article at Thailand e-newsletter

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