Thailand seizes illegal ivory in crates marked as 'marble'

AP News
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Posted: Jul 06, 2015 5:02 AM
Thailand seizes illegal ivory in crates marked as 'marble'

BANGKOK (AP) — Thai customs officials said Monday they seized 250 kilograms (550 pounds) of ivory — or about 130 tusks and pieces — hidden in crates being shipped from Africa to Asia.

The haul was headed from Congo to Laos and transited through several countries in between, said the deputy director-general of Thailand's Customs Department, Chamroen Photiyod. He said Thai authorities received a tip-off and began tracking the shipment when it left Addis Ababa airport in Ethiopia.

On Friday, authorities at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi Airport stopped the shipment which was inside two wooden crates marked "marble pieces" that contained four suitcases with the ivory inside, Chamroen told a news conference.

The ivory was worth an estimated 10 million baht (US$295,000), he said.

This is the 11th ivory seizure the Thai Customs Department has made this year.

Thailand is a major transit hub and destination for smuggled tusks, which are often carved into tourist trinkets and ornaments.

Poachers have killed tens of thousands of African elephants for their tusks in recent years to meet demand for ivory in Asia.