A suspected member of Thailand's largest tiger-trafficking ring has been arrested in Udon Thani.
A female tiger, saved from a tiger trade gang in April last year, is now under the care of the Khao Prathap Chang Wildlife Sanctuary in Ratchaburi. PATIPAT JANTHONG
Sudjai Chanthawong, 49, was nabbed yesterday by undercover police from the Central Investigation Bureau's natural resources and environmental crime suppression division in Muang district.
He was arrested after police found that his bank account was used by a trafficking ring to accept payment from undercover police for the sale of a live tiger last year.
That transaction led to the arrest last May of two Thai men in Chaiyaphum.
Police at that time were targeting a gang thought to be responsible for moving up to 1,000 tigers and leopards into Laos and Vietnam in the past decade.
Mr Sudjai was taken for questioning in Chaiyaphum, where police hoped to find more links to wildlife trafficking through Thailand's northeast provinces.
"Thai police are to be congratulated for following the money and finding one of the [alleged] kingpins involved in cross-border wildlife trafficking," said Steve Galster, director of the Freeland Foundation, which supported the operation.
"Freeland and police stand together in sending a signal to the traffickers that Thailand is becoming a much more difficult place to do their business."