Bus driver caught with nearly 1,000 protected marine creatures

PHUKET: A bus driver was arrested in Phang Nga early this morning with nearly one thousand protected marine creatures. He was enroute to Phuket.

“We received information from one of our sources that a big delivery of marine creatures would be made by bus today. We monitored the route and finally spotted the bus on Petchkasem Road in Moo 2, Tai Muang sub-district,” said Col Somyos Seehabua, superintendent of Tai Muang Police.

“We found 16 categories of marine creatures, including various types of fish and starfish, inside plastic bags,” said Col Somyos.

The driver, Athikorn Eimwilai, 28, denied ownership of the creatures and said that another man, whose name he did not know, paid him to deliver them from Phang Nga to Phuket. Nevertheless, he was charged with possession of protected marine creatures.

“Mr Athikorn said he was told that someone would collect the packages at the Phuket Bus Terminal. He said he knew the packages contained marine creatures, but did not think that it was illegal to deliver them,” said Col Somyos.

Police say they hope to unravel the network further using contact details of the receiver which were written on the box.

“We learned from our source that a big network in Takuapa was involved in trading protected marine creatures. They are sent all over Thailand, including Phuket and Bangkok. By using the local bus service, they hope to dodge law enforcement officers,” said Col Somyos.

“We will cooperate with Takuapa Police and other relevant officers and do our best to put an end to protected marine life trading. We will also closely monitor any deliveries made by bus,” he added.

The confiscated creatures have been placed at the Phang Nga Coastal Fisheries Research and Development Office while the case is under investigation.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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