A Thai man was caught attempting to smuggle an unexpected good to neighboring country Laos.
Back in 2017, police in the northern Thai town of Nong Khai stopped Nithinon Srithaniyanan, 25, from continuing his journey after finding a nitrogen tank filled with vials in his belongings.
Inside the six vials was what authorities believed to be human semen.
The man confessed that he was on his way to Vientiane, the capital city of Laos. A fertility clinic there was the final destination of a carefully crafted surrogacy trade that he was part of.
According to the deputy chief of the Department of Health Service Support (DHSS), it is possible that locals were smuggling human semen out of Thailand as a way of bypassing the country’s strict surrogacy law. It only permits married couples in Thailand to have children via in-vitro fertilization (IVF) if they cannot conceive naturally.
The smugglers likely brought the potential client’s semen to Laos instead of having them travel there themselves in order to use the technologies in Thailand as much as possible. Doctors believed that the process of insemination may have already started inside the country as it has more advanced fertilization technologies than its neighbors.
The vials were quickly brought in for testing to confirm their contents. The people who were to face repercussions would change depending on whether it contained human semen or embryos.
If it is just semen, the clinic will be out of the equation as semen is the property of the owner, just like money in the bank. But if the lab results show that the storage tank contained one or more embryos, [the department] will have to further investigate to see how it or they were legally removed from the clinic.
— Department deputy chief Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn
Dr. Thongchai also inspected two out of four fertility and IVF clinics that Srithaniyanan admitted were his sources. These clinics, which were based in the Pathumwan, did not appear to have any irregularities. Authorities remained on high alert.
This is far from the first time Srithaniyanan made his way to neighboring countries for this reason. Immigration authorities confirmed that he visited Cambodia 13 times and Laos 11 times before he was arrested in the border of Nong Khai. He was reportedly hired to transport human semen, eggs and embryos.