Bengal cub trafficker caught

CHUMPHON - Police and soldiers on Friday arrested a woman with three baby Bengal tigers and a 31.5-kilogramme leopard carcass in Pathiu district of this southern province on Friday.

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The smuggled animals could have fetched around 1 million baht on ghe black market, authorities said.

The suspect was identified as Sumonta Tembaeb, 55. The cubs and the dead leopard were found in the back of her pickup truck, concealed under a large cloth and some fruit, said Chumphon police commander Suthinat Sudyord.

Pol Maj Gen Suthinat said officers pursued Ms Sumonta after she drove through a checkpoint while she was heading to Prachuap Khiri Khan province. The woman attempted to avoid arrest by parking in a monks' residence near the Chaiyaphruk cave where she was eventually apprehended, he added.

Ms Sumonta confessed that she had been hired by a stranger to transport the baby tigers and the carcass to a client in Prachuap Khiri Khan for 10,000 baht, according to the officer.

The suspect was charged with illegal possession of protected wildlife and protected wildlife carcasses and taken into custody for further investigation, said Pol Maj Gen Suthinat.

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