BANGKOK (AP) — Thai customs officials said Friday they have seized 105 kilograms (230 pounds) of smuggled ivory worth 16 million baht ($500,000) at Bangkok’s international airport.
The haul of tusks and ivory beads was headed from Angola to Cambodia when it was found in a routine bag scan Thursday afternoon.
The deputy director-general of the Thai Customs Department, Yuttana Yimgarund, said two Vietnamese nationals were arrested and charged with smuggling the ivory in four suitcases.
“Thai customs law prohibits the import, export and transit of these (items),” he said. “In this case, there was going to be a transfer to a neighboring country, so customs had to confiscate them.”
Over the last few years, as Asian economies have grown and demand for ivory has risen, the slaughter of elephants has reached its worst level in more than two decades.
Thailand is a major transit hub and destination for smuggled tusks, which are often carved into tourist trinkets and ornaments.
The smuggling of prohibited items in Thailand is punishable by up to four years imprisonment and a fine of 40,000 baht ($1,285).