UAE man held over Bangkok Airport animal smuggling

Passenger caught with leopards, monkeys and a bear in suitcases.
NEWS, Aviation


Police at Bangkok's international airport on Friday arrested a UAE passenger whose suitcases were filled with endangered animals.

The animals, which included baby leopards, panthers, a bear and monkeys, had been drugged and were bound for Dubai, anti-trafficking group FREELAND Foundation said on its website.

It said the man arrested was a 36-year-old UAE citizen who was stopped as he was preparing to fly first-class from Bangkok to Dubai.

FREELAND said undercover officers from the Thai Nature Crime Police had been monitoring the suspect from his illegal purchase to the moment he stepped into Bangkok's Suvarnabuhmi Airport.

The man was taken into custody at Rajatheva Police Station, while veterinarians cared for the animals, which included two leopards, two panthers, one Asiatic black bear, and two macaque monkeys.

"The trafficker was stunned, it was a perfect undercover operation by the Thai Police Task Force," said Steven Galster, director of FREELAND Foundation whose staff were present for the bust.

Thailand is a hub for illegal wildlife trafficking, but authorities finding so many live mammals is unusual. Typical hauls are of rare tortoises, snakes and lizards.

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