Wildlife Crime

The seizure of African elephant tusks, 739 pieces, total weight 4,000 kilograms valued at 200 million baht (six million US Dollars) by the Royal Thai Customs

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On Monday, 20 April 2015, at 15:30 hours Dr. Somchai Satjaphong, Director of Royal Thai Customs announced that the Customs Department seized 739 pieces of African elephant tusks, weight 4,000 kilograms valued at 200 million baht (6 Million US Dollars) (Note: approx. $6,250,000 USC at exchange rate 32 baht / $1 USD).

The ivory was in a shipping container no. CMAU 2140407 carried on the vessel KATA BHUM voyage on 18 April 2015. The container had been declared as transit cargo of 14,000 kilograms of beans in route to Lao PDR. The cargo originated in the Republic of the Congo, Africa.

After investigation of the smuggling route which was received from an informant and using technical means to track the container, officials learned the container had been taken to load cargo at Matadi, Republic of the Congo on 2 February 2015 and transported down the Congo river, to Point Noire port, Republic of the Congo where the container was transferred to the vessel CMA CGM AFRICA TWO for Port Klang, Malaysia. There it was transferred to the vessel KATA BHUM for transit to Thailand. The container arrived at the Port of Bangkok after a total of 2 months in transit.

Afterwards, TEC LOGISTICS LTD. Company was granted permission to trans ship the cargo across Thailand under permit no. 01192580800207, which specified the cargo would transit Thailand to the Chong Mek Customs facility in Ubol Ratchathani province, with MANISOOK TRADING LAOS, CO. LTD as the final destination recipient of the cargo. Customs investigation and suppression officials who had been tracking the container and Port of Bangkok officials then conducted a successful search and seizure of the container.

The African ivory was seized as evidence as a listed offense according to sections 38 and 99 of the Customs Act of 1926, sections 16-17 of the Customs Act (9th amendment) of 1939, section 58/1 Customs Act of 2015, and section 23, paragraph 1, Wildlife Protection Act of 1992. Elephant tusks and ivory are forbidden to import into or pass through the country, in accordance with the CITES treaty regarding the international trade in endangered wildlife.

The seizure by Customs in this instance is a core policy of Royal Thai Customs regarding the suppression of forbidden goods which are moved across international borders by transnational criminal groups, by using intelligence and technical means. This ivory seizure is considered to be the largest ever in the history of Thailand. From the data and investigations, it is believed if this lot of ivory had crossed the border into Laos; it would have been distributed to groups of buyers in China, Vietnam as well as Thailand.

During 2014, the Customs Department seized ivory in 11 cases consisting of about 50 pieces, total weight of 103.27 kilograms with value of 19,688,154 baht (note: approximately $615,254 USC) During 2015, the Customs Department seized ivory in 2 cases totaling about 500 pieces totaling 29.5 kilograms valued at 5 million baht (note: approx. $156,250 USC). Translated from: Royal Thai Customs, bulletin no. 25/2558, dated 20 April 2015 Websitewww.customs.go.th Origin of the Ivory shipment: Matadi, Congo to Port Noire, Congo, then to Port Klang Malaysia (Google maps)