Breaking News! Two Important Wildlife Trafficking Syndicates in Asia Hit Hard by EAL and the Thai Authorities

Chaiyamart at the police station after the arrest and illegally smuggled Rhino Horn from another source.

Per Elephant Action League (EAL), two successful joint operations with the Royal Thai authorities have resulted in the arrests of wildlife traffickers from the Chaiyamart and Bach wildlife trafficking syndicates.

In a first operation in Thailand, on December 11, 2017, the wanted kingpin Kampanart “Sia Tang” Chaiyamart, belonging to one of the most significant wildlife syndicates in South East Asia, was arrested not far from Bangkok by the Royal Thai Police, with the operational support of EAL’s Special Operations Division (SOD).

Chaiyamart’s extensive network was involved in smuggling live pangolins, ivory, rhino horn and live animals like orangutans and birds.

Mr. Chaiyamart was first arrested in 2014 and Thai investigators discovered that between 2011 and 2014 Chaiyamart’s operation laundered 1.18 billion baht (35 million US Dollars in 2014) through a series of bank accounts.

In a second operation, on December 12, Royal Thai Customs seized 12.5 kg of rhino horn at Bangkok Airport setting the stage for a ‘flash operation’ that has led to the arrest of a member of the Bach Family wildlife crime syndicate, Mr. Bach Van Hoa, also in this case with the operational support of EAL’s Special Operations Division (SOD).

EAL’s director, Mr. Andrea Crosta, indicated that he “believes that this specific ring of traffickers that we took down is behind the smuggling of at least 56.5 kg of rhino horn from South Africa in the past four months.” The total value of this raw rhino horn on the wholesale black market in China is at least USD 2 million (before being processed, carved, or ground).

The Bach Family is a major trafficking syndicate led by two brothers and with operations in Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. They are connected to well-known wanted wildlife kingpin Vixay Keosavang. In 2013, the US Government called this syndicate one of the most prolific international wildlife trafficking syndicates and issued a US $1 million reward.

These arrests are a significant achievement for EAL and its newly created Special Operations Division (SOD), a covert unit within EAL comprised exclusively of former intelligence and law enforcement officers and lead by EAL’s executive director, Mr. Andrea Crosta. The SOD works to collect intelligence and investigate wildlife crime globally and, when possible, to help local law enforcement agencies effectively combat wildlife crime

These arrests and operations should have a ripple effect back to Africa and Indonesia, from where these wildlife criminal networks get their products, including rhino horn, ivory, pangolins and live animals like orangutans. Part of the work of EAL is to make the lives of the primary buyers and brokers of wildlife products much more difficult.

EAL would like to thank Royal Thai Customs and the Royal Thai Police for their cooperation and support with these operations and looks forward to a continued partnership.

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