6 Vietnamese timber smugglers collared
published : 23 Mar 2023 at 05:00
newspaper section: News
writer: Apinya Wipatayotin
Six Vietnamese nationals have been arrested in Chaiyaphum for the attempted smuggling of 171 kilogrammes of agarwood from Phukhieo Wildlife Sanctuary, says the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP).
The suspects, identified as Dang Hiep, Tran Cao Cuong, Nguyen Van Binh, Hoang Van Ba, Hoang Van An and Hoang Xuan Van, were arrested on Saturday by a team of park rangers and police officers.
Authorities believe the suspects work in the same group, as three of them had been arrested for similar violations last year, said acting DNP chief Attaporn Charoenchansa yesterday.
He said some of the suspects admitted to having hunted endangered wildlife in the area, including tigers and pangolins.
"All of the suspects are skilled hunters," he said, adding cooperation between stakeholders is needed to tackle wildlife smuggling at its root.
"The department has contacted Interpol, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Vietnamese embassy in Thailand to share the information we have on the case," he said.
Wichanon Saenphala, chief of the Phukhieo Wildlife Sanctuary, said the agarwood that the suspects were trying to smuggle was locally valued at around 800,000 baht.
However, he said the precious wood, which is prized for being easy to carve in addition to its fragrant quality, often commands a significant premium at its final destination.
He said the suspects had planned to ship the precious wood back to Vietnam, where it would be sold to a merchant who would later export the agarwood to buyers in a third country.
It is unclear how far the crime ring extends or how many people from other countries are involved, though inquiries are continuing. The department says 41 Vietnamese citizens have been arrested for illegal wildlife and timber poaching since 2009.