Thai police seize 400 deadly piranhas

Singapore Straits Times, 15 June 2003

BANGKOK - Police seized 400 carnivorous piranhas from a home in the Thai capital and are searching for their owner amid fears that some of the deadly fish may wind up in public waterways.

The police found the notoriously dangerous freshwater fish in two large tanks at the house of a man who now faces up to six years in prison and a fine of 120,000 baht (S$5,000) if convicted of owning and breeding the fish.

Owner Kriangsak Charukthiti was not at home during the raid and a warrant is out for his arrest, Agriculture Minister Sora-at Klinprathum said.

Possession of the South American fish is illegal in Thailand, where the last seizure of piranhas took place 16 years ago.

The fish is sold on the black market for up to 3,000 baht each.

Police were tipped off by a fish breeder who spotted the piranhas during a visit to Kriangsak's home.

Mr Sora-at said the authorities were attempting to track down anyone who may have purchased the deadly fish.

'What I fear most is that whoever bought the piranhas will release them into natural waterways for fear of arrest,' he said.

Last year, the Thai authorities called on animal-lovers to hand over deadly blue-ring octopuses, one of several exotic pets that became popular in the kingdom and, like the piranha, are classified as extremely dangerous. -- The Nation/Asia News Network, AFP