Breaking News! Notorious Thai Wildlife Trafficker Boonchai Bach Sentenced To A Mere 2½ Years In Prison

Photo from AsiaWorks

Notorious Thai wildlife trafficker Boonchai Bach has been sentenced to a mere two and a half years in jail. While that is something, it hardly seems like an appropriate punishment for the severity of the crime or a criminal of his alleged stature.

According to Asia Times, the 41-year-old kingpin is a member of the notorious Bach family from Nakhon Phanom in the far Northeast, was charged with running a group that smuggled horns of endangered rhinos from Africa, reportedly worth $65,000 per kilogram, through Suvarnabhumi Airport in the Thai capital.

Bach was charged under the Thai Customs Act, the Wild Animal Reservation and Protection Act, and the Animal Epidemics Act.

After collaborating in an investigation, local police and customs officials determined that Boonchai Bach was the financier of the shipment that anti-smuggling organization Freeland claimed, “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, which provided training and analytical support to Thai authorities in the case, indicated that Bach’s illicit supply chain was part of a wider syndicate called “Hydra” of which he was reportedly a senior member. 

As reported by WAN at the time of Boonchai’s arrest and many times before and after, the growing demand for rhino horns is based on false beliefs in some Asian cultures that they have medicinal powers, are viewed as aphrodisiacs, and that ownership reflects social and financial status.

As per Freeland, Bach 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.

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