Bangkok — Thai authorities arrested a Pakistani man caught smuggling 470 black pond turtles valued at 3.5 million baht (US$111,000) hidden in his suitcases at Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi airport on Friday, said reports.
The rare black pond turtle originates in Bangladesh, India, Pakistan and Nepal, and international trade of the species is forbidden.
Mustafa Ali, 25, tried to pass through customs with four large suitcases after arriving in Bangkok from Lahore on Thai Airways International flight TG346.
He confessed he was paid 10,000 baht (US$317) to smuggle in the turtles, which could be sold for 25,000 baht (US$794) each depending on their size, according to reports.
Customs officials at the airport tightened security after Wednesday night when 423 radiata turtles and 52 Hamilton turtles worth 900,000 baht (US$28,600) were discovered in two unclaimed suitcases from Dhaka, Bangladesh left on a conveyor belt for two hours.
All three species are protected by the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 1992 and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.