'Mule' held for pangolin smuggling

'Mule' held for pangolin smuggling

PRACHUAP KHIRI KHAN: Police arrested a truck driver at a checkpoint in Sam Roi Yot district on Saturday night, after officers found 76 live pangolins concealed underneath its timber load.

Sam Roi Yot police chief, Pol Col Chalermwut Wongwiangchan, said the pickup -- which was stopped for a routine search at 8pm on Saturday -- appeared to be loaded with lumber.

However, upon further inspection police found 18 sacks containing a total of 76 live pangolins.

The pickup driver, Sompol Mekchai, 45, admitted that he was hired to deliver the protected animals from tambon Khlong Wan to an agreed spot in Prachuap Khiri Khan's Muang district.

Mr Sompol, of Ratchaburi's Pak Tho district, also confessed to having made two successful deliveries prior to his arrest on Saturday. Police said that Mr Sompol was paid 8,000 baht for each trip.

He was charged with the illegal possession of protected wildlife, which violates the Wildlife Act of 1992.

The pangolins will be rehabilitated at Huay Sai wildlife breeding station in Phetchaburi before they are returned to the wild.

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