Police officers from the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Suppression Division, accompanied by conservation officials, have arrested a suspected wildlife smuggler in the northeastern province of Udon Thani. Officials also rescued 41 macaque monkeys in the operation, although another 3 monkeys were found to have died.
According to a Thai PBS World report, police believe the man was attempting to smuggle the monkeys across the border into Laos. From there, they would have travelled to China, where they would be used in laboratory experiments, according to officials.
The arrest happened when the authorities stopped a car in the district of Nong Han, because they were suspicious that it contained smuggled goods. Inside the vehicle, officers found 13 plastic boxes containing macaque monkeys. 41 were still alive, but another 3 had died. The car driver, named only as “Boonchuay”, and understood to be from the neighbouring province of Chaiyaphum, was arrested at the scene.
According to Sombat Supasorn, director of the Protected Area Region 10 Office, Boonchuay is a member of a wildlife smuggling gang. He says 3 members of the same gang were arrested on the Friendship Highway in Udon Thani last July and found to have 50 macaques in their possession.
Wildlife officials say smugglers usually capture the monkeys in Chon Buri, Lop Buri, or Ratchaburi, before smuggling them to Laos. Younger monkeys, between 4 and 6 months, usually sell for around 5,000 baht each, while older monkeys are sold based on their weight.
From Laos, the monkeys are smuggled to China, where they are used in lab tests and where sellers can command prices of up to 10,000 baht per monkey.
SOURCE: Thai PBS World