A Vietnamese man and his Thai helper were arrested in Nakhon Phanom on Monday night while allegedly trying to smuggle a cache of exotic birds from Laos.
Border patrol police became suspicious when they spotted a man unloading two plastic crates on to a van parked by the Mekong River in Ban Samran Tai village, Muang district.
As the van moved off police signalled it to stop but the driver sped off towards Uthane district. Police then radioed the Uthane police station, who intercepted the van at the Uthane Hospital Intersection.
They apprehended the driver, Vietnamese national Wo Wan Thang, 39, along with his Thai passenger, Narongchai Jaikla, 57, a cyclo-taxi rider from Nakhon Phanom’s Muang district.
A search of the van turned up two plastic crates stuffed with live birds.
Police said Wo confessed he had been paid Bt7,000 to smuggle the birds to a recipient in Bangkok. He said he had rented the van and driven through the border checkpoint at the Third Thai-Lao Friendship bridge at 3.30pm on Monday, hiring Narongchai to handle the transport of the crates at the Nakhon Phanom Bus Terminal.
Wo said the crated birds were transported across the river by a Lao boat skipper and the plan was to drive them to the bus terminal and have them shipped to Bangkok.
During the interrogation, Wo received a phone call which police told him to answer. It turned out to be a pet vendor at Chatuchak Weekend Market asking him when the birds would reach Bangkok. He replied that they would be shipped to Bangkok at midnight on Tuesday.
Police are now seeking to identify and locate the vendor.