Customs officials early on Sunday arrested three Vietnamese nationals - one man and two women - in possession of 15 pieces of rhino horns altogether weighing 7.4 kilogrammes at Suvarnabhumi airport.
They were arrested on arrival at about 1am from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, while in transit to Hanoi, Vietnam. The Vietnamese man was identified as Trueng Ba Ngia, 27, and the women as Nguyen Thi Thu Chang, 30, and Pham Thi Thang Huay, 56.
The arrests were made by customs officials at Suvarnabhumi airport after a tip-off that a shipment of rhino horns would be delivered by air from Luanda, Angola, via Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, en route to Hanoi, Vietnam. Suvarnabhumi was one of the transit points.
The officials focused their attention on a group of passengers travelling on Flight ET 628 from Luanda, Ethiopia, via Addis Ababa to Suvarnabhumi.
On their arrival at the airport, the Vietnamese were stopped by customs officials for a search. In an x-ray scan of their three suitcases, the officials found 15 pieces of rhino horns, weighing 7.4kg in total, with a street value of about 15 million baht.
The three suspects said in an interrogation that they were hired for 32,000 baht each to deliver the rhino horns from Angola, where they worked, to Hanoi.
They were initially charged with smuggling animal carcasses without permission - in violation of many laws including the Customs Act, the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act, and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).