SURAT THANI — Police have detained a man who allegedly attempted to smuggle nearly two tons of coral from reefs around Koh Pha Ngan island in southern Thailand.
Local residents alerted volunteer police officers late last night after they saw three men transporting bags from a boat to a pick-up truck.
The pick-up truck of coral found by police on Koh Pha Ngan, 24 March 2015.
When a group of police officers arrived at the site, the three men immediately fled the scene, police say.
The officers then inspected the pick-up truck and found at least 1,800 kilograms of corals stuffed into 60 sacks.
Satit Khunwatcharakit, 55, later met with police and identified himself as the owner of the vehicle, but insisted that he had no knowledge of the smuggling. According to Satit, a man named "Kerd" was borrowing the pick-up truck at the time.
However, police detained Satit and charged him with possessing corals without permission. Corals are considered a protected animal under Thai laws and illegal possession is punishable by up one year in prison and a 20,000 baht fine.