6 June 2024

Thai park rangers have arrested five Vietnamese nationals as they tried to flee into Laos with 103.5kg of Agarwood chips, thought to have been stolen from Thailand’s Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary in the north-eastern province of Chaiyaphum.

Last week, park rangers from the same sanctuary intercepted two cars as they were leaving the sanctuary. A search of the two vehicles uncovered 173kg of Agarwood chips

Rangers stopped three cars at a border checkpoint in Chiang Khong district of Chiang Rai Province yesterday (Sunday) as they tried to leave Thailand for Laos. A search uncovered 103.5kg of Agarwood chips, believed to be from the sanctuary in Chaiyaphum.

Agarwood is a protected plant species in Thailand and individuals are not allowed to possess the wood without permission. The scented wood is in high demand and can fetch high prices on the black market.

Thai wildlife officials said that Vietnamese Agarwood poachers travel to Thailand in groups legally, through border crossings between Laos and Thailand, and then slip into the Phu Khiao Wildlife Sanctuary, where there are many Agarwood trees.

Each group will spend months at a time in the woods. After having collected enough of the wood, they will try to leave Thailand through formal immigration checkpoints.