A Thai man was arrested at the Customs Department’s border checkpoint in Ubon Ratchathani province in the northeast of the country. He was caught delivering durians, worth around one million baht, to a customer in Laos.
Chongmek Customs chief on the Thailand-Laos border, Wanlop Suiraksa, told Thai media that they had received leaked information that durians were smuggled into Laos yesterday. As customs officers and police watched cars and travelers at the checkpoint, they spotted a silver van about to pass the checkpoint into the Laos region. Then they asked the driver to pull over to the side of the road for inspection because the back of the truck was covered with a black plastic tarp.
Officers found 6,500 durians packed in the truck. The 21-year-old driver, Narongsak Sichana, is now charged with breaking the Plant Variety Protection Act by smuggling preserved plants without permission. He could face a sentence of up to 1 year in prison, a fine of 4,000 baht, or both. The driver also violated customs law by exporting restricted goods without permission.
The driver told authorities he was hired to deliver durians to a Lao customer living in the town of Pakse. He said this Lao farmer had nearly 40 acres of plantation and ordered durians from Thailand at 150 to 200 baht each. He added that he did not know that delivering durians out of the country was illegal. He claimed that the person who hired him had already requested clearance from the customs department.
According to the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives, 11 preserved plants are durian, pomelo, longan, lychee, tamarind, coconut, pineapple, salak, Pueraria Mirifica grass and thong khruea grass or Butea superba. These preserved plants require authorization before being exported.
In addition to delivering durians out of the country, exporting unripe durian is also illegal. Anyone selling or exporting unripe durians will be considered a deceptive customer. This person could face a sentence of up to 3 years in prison and a fine of up to 60,000 baht.
THE SOURCE: Daily News