BANGKOK, April 20, 2015 - Freeland applauds the investigative work of Thai Customs that led to the country's largest elephant ivory seizure in history --4 metric tons--, announced earlier today during a press conference in Bangkok. The elephant tusks were exported from Matadi Port, Democratic Republic of Congo on April 6, transshipped to Pointe Noire of Congo, before being smuggled onward to Bangkok via stopping points in three countries, including Mauritius, Sri Lanka and Malaysia.
It appears that the traffickers tried to smuggle the enormous haul of tusks under the radar during the Thai New Year period, celebrated last week. On April 18th, however, Thai Customs detected the illegal shipment, which was mixed with bags of beans, through use of x-ray technology. The shipment was destined for Laos, where several major wildlife trafficking businesses have been operating.
"Whoever was behind this shipment is still at large," said Steven Galster, Director of Freeland, "but at least they lost 4 tons of dirty money today. We must remember, however, that many more elephants will die soon if we don't try something different."
Noting how rarely the traffickers behind the seizures are identified and arrested, Freeland called today on the shipping companies that moved the poached tusks, as well as the insurance companies and banks behind the shippers, to do their due diligence, and help investigate the matter.
"This shipment was fraudulent and amounts to money laundering," Galster noted. It's up to businesses that move commodities and money all over the world to ensure they are not inadvertently moving