Arrested Malaysian wanted for worldwide wildlife trafficking

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Police read out an arrest warrant when detaining Malaysian Boon Ching Teo, 58, second right, at a hotel in Wang Thonglang district, Bangkok, on Wednesday. (Photo supplied)

A 58-year-old Malaysian man was arrested in Bangkok on Wednesday for alleged worldwide wildlife trafficking and will be extradited to the United States, police said.

Pol Lt Gen Jirabhop Bhuridej, commissioner of the Central Investigation Bureau, said on Thursday that Boon Ching Teo was apprehended at a hotel on Pradit Manutham Road in Wang Thonglang district for alleged wildlife trafficking and money-laundering.

Pol Col Arun Wachirasukanya, deputy commander of the Natural Resources and Environmental Crime Division, said the suspect was wanted by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. He is allegedly a key wildlife trafficker with a worldwide network of illicit trade in rhinoceros horn and elephant tusks and endangered wild African animals, and active in laundering money for wildlife traffickers.

He was a major suspect, wanted by US authorities, the deputy commander said.

“Mr Boon Ching Teo did not have an exact place of residence. He was always traveling from one country to another, especially in Africa, and was therefore difficult to trace. Then there was information that he was visiting Thailand for illicit business. Officials finally knew his whereabouts, and we arrested him,” Pol Col Arun said.

The suspect denied all charges and said he was in Thailand on cannabis oil business and he frequently visited Africa on vacation.

The suspect had previously been arrested in Thailand in 2015 for smuggling African elephant tusks through Sadao district of Songkhla. He was fined.

Police handed him over to the Office of the Attorney-General for extradition to the US.