Officials searched a suspicious passenger van on the 18th of this month (June 2019). Over 4,500 turtles were found, this included endangered turtles under CITES and some were Japanese turtles. The van was driving on the Mae Sot road in Tak Province. The officials have taken the driver in for further investigation. It is estimated that the turtles are connected to an Illegal Wildlife Trade group.
The officials from customs, wildlife, and sea-life inspection set up a checkpoint on the road. The goal was to inspect every car driving through the Mae Sot – Tak road at Huai Hin Fon in Tak Province. The road connects the border to the main city of Tak. It was raining when the officials called over a white van driving from the Myanmar – Thailand border with a Bangkok license plate.
The driver is Sanchai Tongkaburana 44 years old. The van was full of legal Myanmar workers with valid registrations and work permits for Thailand. At first, everything seemed to be going good for the van, but then the officials inspected the back of the van.
There were 4 foam boxes tightly wrapped in tape, they all had holes to allow ventilation. The foam boxes were packed in a way that attempted the boxes to blend in with the personal luggage of the Myanmar citizens. Inside the foam boxes were mesh bags full of small turtles, they were filled inside the bags similar to glass marbles.
Inside the bags were, 1. 586 Indian Roofed Turtles, 2. 75 Common Snapping Turtles, 3. 3,885 Japanese baby turtles, coming to a total of 4,546 small turtles. The Indian Roofed Turtle is under CITES Appendix I, which are the most endangered species among the CITES animals, International trade is prohibited. The Common Snapping Turtle is under Appendix III, the animals under this appendix require cooperation from other countries to prevent unsustainable or legal exploitation.
A bag full of water was also discovered with 35 snake-head fish inside. At the time of the discovery, the turtles were very weak as they had been laying on top of each other inside small mesh bags for a long time. The officials made sure of the turtles’ safety one by one. The van driver has been arrested for further investigation.
FB Caption: Inside the mesh bags were a total of 4,546 baby turtles crammed in together.
Source: Workpoint News