Two women were arrested at a Bangkok airport after 109 live animals were found in their suitcases, Thailand officials said.
Checkpoint officers at the Suvarnabhumi Airport saw some “suspicious objects” when conducting an x-ray scan of the two women’s suitcases on June 27, according to a post on Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Facebook page.
Officers searched the two suitcases and found two white hedgehogs, two armadillos, 20 snakes, 35 turtles and 50 lizards, the post says.
The women were traveling to Chennai, India, on Thai Airways, according to the agency.
Authorities confiscated the animals and arrested the travelers, the post says.
The women face charges of “violating the Wildlife Conservation and Protection Act of 2019, the Animal Disease Act of 2015 and the Customs Act of 2017,” according to CNN.
A study of wildlife trafficking through India’s airports between 2011 and 2020 found that Chennai International Airport had the highest number of illegal wildlife seizures compared with other airports in the country, according to a March 2022 report by TRAFFIC, a UK-based nonprofit focusing on the trade of wild animals and plants. Reptiles were the most commonly trafficked animal, making up 46% of seizures.
About 45% of wildlife that is trafficked through the air is smuggled in passenger baggage, according to TRAFFIC.
“Wildlife trafficking has global implications for the environment, people and communities, and national security,” Michelle Owen, a leader in TRAFFIC’s partnership project addressing wildlife trafficking by air. “Criminals involved in wildlife trafficking are often directly connected to other illegal networks, including narcotics and human trafficking.”