Alleged UAE animal smuggler flees Thailand

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The baby sun bear found in a suitcase at Bangkok Airport. (Freeland Foundation)

The baby sun bear found in a suitcase at Bangkok Airport. (Freeland Foundation)

A man from the UAE who was arrested as he attempted to smuggle suitcases filled of endangered baby animals out of Thailand has escaped from the country, it was reported on Tuesday.

Noor Mahmood was detained on May 13 by undercover officers at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi airport with the animals which included four leopard cubs, a Malayan sun bear, a baby marmoset and a baby red-cheeked gibbon, according to wildlife campaign group Freeland Foundation.

Mahmood was charged with smuggling endangered species out of the kingdom and released on a 200,000 baht ($6,600) bail, but he left Bangkok on a May 23 flight to the UAE, immigration police told news agency AFP.

Freeland called for Thai and UAE collaboration to continue with the case.

"Thai police did a great undercover operation to nab Mr Mahmood just as he was about to board his first class flight to Dubai," the group's director Steven Galster told AFP. "But since he was caught red handed and charged, we want to know why he is not being prosecuted?"

The case prompted animal welfare charities to urge the UAE to do more to clamp down on the illegal smuggling of endangered and exotic animals into the country.

“Not enough is being done to prevent this trade,” Galster told Arabian Business.

Ashley Fruno, a senior campaigner of PETA for Asia-Pacific, said tougher deterrents were needed to outweigh the easy money available to contraband traders.

Thailand is a hub for illegal wildlife trafficking, but authorities finding so many live mammals is unusual. Typical hauls are of rare tortoises, snakes and lizards.

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Posted by: Hunter

I would not be surprised if we do not hear any more about this case.
This person should have been made a scape goat. What we be the penalty if there were 6 humans babies in the bag ? Why are the rules so different ?
Dubai has been so far a fair place but the rich who have escaped there want to have their lavish lifestyles with these wild animals are their pets. I feel sorry for the hard work on capturing Mahmood. Then to see him out on bail. Pathetic and foolish, it will carry on until the next time.

Posted by: Andy

An Emirati man who is also wanted in the US who turned over his passport and has his name in the airport with a travel ban still travels because he uses his Yemeni Passport. Many locals have Yemeni passports as well and the government turns a blind eye to this when a local is wanted. I reckon that they will not hand this man over to Thai authorities. Let's see how this case comes along.

Posted by: Hont

I am very interested to see whether UAE authorities will man up and do the right thing here. This character deserves to be held accountable for this and jumping bail. Imagine a Thai citizen doing the same here

Posted by: Telcoguy

I am not sure the extradition treaty with Thailand was signed. It was "imminent" last october, but as usual no more news.

Posted by: Julian K

Didn't the Thai authorities confiscate this person's passport when they released him on bail? That is normal procedure. Wasn't he on a "watch" list with the Immigration authorities at all border crossings in Thailand. Something doesn't seem right about his "departure" especially as he took a flight direct to the UAE.

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