Man arrested for smuggling more than 300 species of rare fish

PHUKET: A man was arrested by police yesterday in possession of more than 300 live, rare species of fish that were being smuggled in plastic bags.

Kan Amtrakul, 63, was arrested at about 5pm on Wiset Road near the Chalong Circle, heading from Rawai to Chalong in a Toyota pick-up truck.

“Mr Kan was pulled over by police and found to be in possession of more than 300 rare species of fish packed into 57 plastic bags,” Tanet Munnoy, chief of the Department of Marine and Coastal Resources (DMCR) Phuket office, told the Phuket Gazette.

The value of the fish was estimated to be more than 100,000 baht, he said. The collection included mainly pennantfish, butterflyfish, triggerfish, angelfish, lionfish and spotted golden goatfish.

The arrest followed a tip-off, which provided the DMCR with a detailed description of the pick-up and the fish it was smuggling, said Mr Tanet.

The operation – jointly led by the Phuket Marine Biological Center (PMBC) and the Phuket Fisheries Office – also involved Chalong Police, who set up a checkpoint at Chalong Circle to stop the truck, he said.

After his arrest, Mr Kan admitted to police that he had been hired to transport the fish to the Phuket Bus Terminal where they were to be put on a bus to Takuapa.

“I don’t know anything about the fate of these fish. I only know that I was hired to take them from Rawai to the Bus Terminal,” Mr Kan said.

Mr Kan was taken to Chalong Police Station for further questioning and was charged with illegal possession of multiple species of protected fish.

“This is only the beginning of our investigation. We believe there are more people involved in this fish smuggling ring,” said Mr Tanet.

“We will expand our investigation and bring to justice any other people involved.”

The rescued fish were taken to the PMBC.

— Kritsada Mueanhawong

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Archiving articles from the Phuket Gazette circa 1998 - 2017. View the Phuket Gazette online archive and Digital Gazette PDF Prints.

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