Rhino horn smuggling suspect surrenders to police

Rhino horn smuggling suspect surrenders to police

Surveillance camera images of Thitirat Ara-i collecting the suitcase later found to contain rhinoceros horns at Suvarnabhumi airport on March 10. (Supplied photo)
Surveillance camera images of Thitirat Ara-i collecting the suitcase later found to contain rhinoceros horns at Suvarnabhumi airport on March 10. (Supplied photo)

SAMUT PRAKAN -- One of the two women suspected of attempting to smuggle 21 rhino horns into the country in a suitcase that arrived on a flight from Africa surrendered to Suvarnabhumi airport police on Monday.

Thitirat Ara-i, 56, and Kansinee  Anutranusat, 41 were wanted under arrest warrants approved by the Samut Prakan Provincial Court on charges of smuggling untaxed materials into the country in violation of the Customs Act and Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act.

Mrs Thitirat surrendered to Suvarnabhumi police on Monday afternoon.  She said she knew Ms Kansinee, the other suspect, because they ran a garment export business together.

Mrs Thitirat said that on arriving back at Suvarnabhumi airport on March 10 from Phnom Penh, Cambodia, she received a phone call from Ms Kansinee, who was also at the airport, asking her to help pick up a suitcase containing clothes for sale.

She went to conveyor belt No.9, picked up the suitcase, put it on a trolley and walked on to meet Ms Kansinee, not knowing that it contained rhinoceros horns.  

According to police, Ms Kansinee had arrived from Vietnam about the same time as the suitcase containing the horns arrived from Nairobi on Kenya Airlines flight KQ 886. The bag was conveyed into the airport luggage collection area on belt No.9.

The two women were being escorted through customs by airport officials when they saw the suitcase being x-rayed. They quickly walked away.

Pol Gen Chalermkiat Srivorakhan, a deputy police chief who went to the airport to question Mrs Thitirat, said police were convinced they had sufficient evidence against the suspects.

As for a public prosecutor and two police officers who were seen accompanying the suitcase, Pol Gen Chalermkiat said they were being investigated by their respective offices, to find out how they were involved.


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