Police seized 76 live pangolins, worth an estimated 12 million baht on the black market, hidden in the back of a pick up truck in Sam Roi Yot. Police arrested Sompol Mekchai, 45, from Ratchaburi, after stopping his truck at a police checkpoint near Sam Roi Yot Police Station. Inside the truck officers found 18 sacks stuffed with the pangolins.
Mekchai said the pangolins were destined for China where they would be used in traditional medicines. He added that this was his third trip trafficking the animals, which originated from Indonesia. Mekchai said that for each trip he was paid 8,000 baht but he reportedly told officers he would not be able to identify his employer as he only ever received orders via telephone.
Pangolins are a protected species under Thai law, with fines of up to 40,000 baht and/or four years in prison for anyone found trafficking the animals. Mekchai was charged with possessing protected wild animals without a permit. The pangolins were transferred to a wildlife rescue center in Tha Yang, Phetchaburi.