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Thai man arrested for tiger trafficking

Photographers take photos of a 15-month-old female Bengal tiger during a police news conference in Bangkok, Thailand Sunday, May 22, 2011. Police in Thailand have arrested a man suspected of being a key player in one of the country's largest tiger trafficking rings, police and a wildlife conservation group said Sunday. (AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong) AP Photo/Apichart Weerawong

Thai police arrest suspected tiger trafficker
Press take photos of a 15-month-old female Bengal tiger during a police news conference in Bangkok on May 22, 2011.
AP/Apichart Weerawong

(CBS/AP) BANGKOK - Police have arrested a man suspected of being a key player in one of Thailand's largest tiger trafficking rings, police and a wildlife conservation group said Sunday.

Authorities had been searching for the 49-year-old Thai man since last year, when they issued a warrant for his arrest after seizing a Bengal tiger cub during a separate operation, police said in a statement.

Police believe the network is buying tigers and selling them to purchasers mainly in China via land routes in neighboring Laos and Vietnam, said Chanadda Thanikulap of the FreeLand Foundation, an anti-trafficking group based in Thailand.

The suspect was arrested Saturday in northeastern Thailand and is being held in Bangkok, police said.

The tiger captured last year - now about 1 1/2 years old and weighing 220 pounds - was put on display for reporters during a police news conference announcing the arrest.

Chanadda said the animal was being held by the national park service and appeared to have been habituated to human contact, leading authorities to believe it had been bred in captivity.

  • Edecio Martinez

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