Highway police seized about 100 live pangolins hidden at the back of a pickup truck parked in a petrol station in Muang district on early Sunday morning.
The discovery was made at PTT petrol station on the inbound lane of Mittraparb Road in tambon Samrarn during a regular inspection by a police patrol unit from Highway Police Station 2, Sub-Division 4.
The animals had an estimated street value of about one million baht.
The pickup truck carrying the endangered pangolins looked suspicious as it was abandoned in a dark area on the station grounds and had dubious loads with a strong stench coming out from the back compartment of the pickup, Pol Capt Pornchai Sangsila, a deputy inspector said.
Officers called auto experts to unlock the pickup’s door after on one on the premises claimed to be the owner of the vehicle and found 50 containers containing a total of 102 live pangolins on the back compartment. The animals had an estimated street value of about one million baht.
A male employee at the station told police that he saw two men coming on the pickup truck. They were in front of a convenient store in a station when police tried to look for the pickup’s owner. The men walked out from the station quickly to escape arrest and he later saw a car came to pick them.
Further investigation identified the owner of the pickup as Pornchai Sangsila, a native of Samut Songkhram. Police suspect Mr Pornchai may have involved with a major transnational wildlife smuggling gang that transport pangolins from the East and West of the country to neighbouring countries through Nong Khai province.
The gang often used the Mittraparb Road in the upper Northeast as their smuggling route, Pol Capt Pornchai said.