Customs hits ivory smuggling rings (China)


Feng Shuang, ECNS

Date Published

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Customs officers from Guangzhou, Guangdong province, have seized more than 178 kilograms of smuggled endangered animals and their products after cracking down on 111 smuggling cases since the beginning of the year.

Meanwhile, a major criminal gang and a special smuggling channel that used to be active in smuggling endangered animals and their products into Guangdong from abroad have been busted, said Zheng Jun, deputy director of the Guangzhou Customs’ anti-smuggling bureau.

“The endangered animals and their products seized this year included ivory and its products, rhinoceros horns, pangolin scales, dried sea horses, red coral and hawksbill turtles,” Zheng said.

“Most of the smuggled endangered animals and their products were seized while they were being illegally brought or mailed by smugglers to the southern metropolis,” he said.

Guangzhou, known as the southern gateway of the Chinese mainland, has always been in the front-line area for the country’s anti-smuggling campaign, and customs officers from Guangzhou have seized more than 8 metric tons of endangered animals and their products after cracking down on more than 600 cases since 2016, Zheng added.

Guangzhou Customs immediately set up a special task force and launched a further investigation when they investigated 13 ivory products, weighing more than 4.5 kilograms, from a parcel that was declared to be “models” and was mailed from Japan earlier this year.

After the parcel receiver, surnamed Huang, was detained, customs officers caught another suspect surnamed Lu in Chongqing municipality. Huang admitted he mailed the smuggled ivory and its products to Lu for big profit after receiving the ivory from Africa.

Customs officers seized 1,746 pieces of ivory and its products, weighing more than 18 kilograms, from Huang’s and Lu’s home.

It was the largest smuggling case involving ivory and its products seized through express mail, according to Zheng.

“We will not relax our vigilance,” Zheng said.

He vowed that his bureau would expand cooperation with overseas counterparts in the months to come.

Top priorities will be to focus on fighting and investigating big cases, major smuggling gangs, channels and networks, said Zheng.

In January, Guangzhou Customs provided valuable information to its Malaysian counterparts, resulting in the seizure by Malaysian customs officers of more than 60 kilograms of rhinoceros horns, he added.