Animal Trafficking Kingpin Arrested in Thailand

Thai police process suspected wildlife trafficker Boonchai Bach, who was arrested after an X-ray inspection last month of a bag on a flight from Ethiopia revealed the rhino horns.
Tassanee Vejpongsa/AP

Thai police toppled an accused kingpin in the global multi-million-dollar wildlife black market, with the arrest on Friday of Boonchai Bach in Nakhon Phanom, near the Laos border along the Mekong river.

For more than a decade, Boonchai is believed to have overseen a syndicate responsible for the illegal trade of wildlife poached in Asia and Africa, according to the anti-trafficking group Freeland, which describes him as a “kingpin” who has evaded capture for years.

The 40-year old Thai man, originally from Vietnam, is being held in connection with last month’s trafficking of 14 African rhino horns into Thailand, a hub for poached animals destined largely for China, according to the group. But Boonchai’s ties to global animal trafficking allegedly go much deeper.