How the case against an alleged poaching kingpin fell apart
Boonchai Bach is only the most recent example of an alleged high-ranking wildlife criminal evading prosecution.
Major victories are scarce in the fight against international wildlife crime, but January 2018 marked one such triumph when Thai police arrested Bach “Boonchai” Mai, a notorious Vietnamese trafficker known to deal in ivory, rhino horn, tigers, pangolins, and more, according to a Guardian exposé and evidence gathered by the anti-trafficking group Freeland.
The widely praised news made international headlines—but celebrations were premature. Last week, Bach walked free after a key witness recanted his testimony in court. It’s an all too familiar outcome for those accused of leading illegal wildlife trade operations. They are rarely convicted, and even more rarely punished.
“There’s so many cases with so-called kingpins or senior, important figures that either drag on for years