A resort area known as "Sin City" has become Asia's newest "lawless playground" for trade in parts of endangered animals including tigers, elephants and rhinos.
A new report reveals that an area called the Golden Triangle Special Economic Zone (GT-SEZ), which sits between Laos, Myanmar and Thailand in Laos' Bokeo province, is offering visitors supermarket-style access to endangered and threatened species smuggled from Africa and other parts of Asia. The complex, which contains a hotel, shops, massage parlors and a shooting range, offers rare animal meat and cruel specialties like tiger bone wine in its restaurants. Vendors openly sell animals and their parts and products, like rhino horn and leopard skin, from shops. Some live animals, like tigers, pangolins and bear cubs, are kept in cages for sale to be eaten or smuggled out.
According to the Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA), which released the report on Thursday, the complex is owned by a Chinese company called Kings Romans Group, which owns an 80 percent stake in its operation. The government of Laos owns the other 20 percent, and has made the area a duty-free haven for illicit activities.