With pedigree cats worth tens of thousands of baht up for auction by the Narcotics Control Board after being seized in a suspected drug network raid, animal rights activists in Thailand are calling on officials to suspend the auction.
The cats, 5 Scottish Folds and a Bengal, were seized last week along with 35 million baht in assets suspected of being linked to a major drug network in Rayong. Police suspect the cats were used to launder money. Scottish Folds can cost 30,000 baht to 60,000 baht while Bengals can cost 46,000 baht to 92,000 baht.
Auctioning off confiscated property is a common practice in law enforcement, but the plans to auction off the cats has drawn criticism from animal rights activists, particularly Thai Animal Guardians Association. The founder of the association says many are not happy that the cats are being treated like the other assets seized by officers.
When news of the confiscated cats first broke out, Thai Animal Guardians Association and the Voice Foundation offered to look after the cats. The association is now calling on the public to write letters to the chief of the Office of the Narcotics Control Board, asking for the auction to be called off.
Since the cats are considered confiscated assets, the cats cannot be transferred without court approval, according to director of Narcotics Control Office Region 2, Pornthip Chaempong.
Police say the cats belong to the wife of a suspect who is currently in custody and she has been on the run for the past couple months. The cats are now being looked after by the suspect’s relatives, Pornthip says. If the relatives can prove that the cats were not purchased using money earned through the illicit drug trade, then the cats will not be auctioned off.
“The ONCB has given the relatives 15 days to provide information about the origin of the six cats and they will be able to take them over permanently if officials find that the cats were not acquired under criminal dealings.”
The auction date and starting price for the cats will be set next month. Pornthip says the 6 cats will be auctioned off together.
“ONCB wants to sell them as one lot, so they are not separated.”
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