Customs officers in Northeast China’s Heilongjiang Province have arrested two suspects and seized 107 items made from extinct woolly mammoth ivory, along with 37 items made from the ivory of the extinct woolly rhino and one ton of raw jade.
Officers discovered the items in 34 concealed compartments in a shipment of soybeans that arrived at a Luobei county border crossing from Russia on February 19, the Legal Times reported Tuesday.
This seizure of mammoth ivory, which weighed 1.07 tons, was the largest captured by the authorities during the current drive against the importation of ivory.
“The longest piece of mammoth ivory was over 1.6 meters and weighed over 36.5 kilograms. It was difficult to carry,” Wu Yancheng, a customs officer was quoted as saying by a China Central Television (CCTV) News report on Tuesday.
Anti-smuggling police officers arrested two suspects in this case surnamed Han and Gao in Jixi, Heilongjiang on February 26.
Han allegedly purchased two trucks, built concealed compartments for the ivory, and then hired drivers, including Gao, to smuggle the goods from Russia.
“Chinese law stipulates that it is generally illegal to import ivory, however importing mammoth ivory is legal if it is properly declared,” said Li Guohui, chief of the anti-smuggling bureau of Jiamusi, Heilongjiang, according to the CCTV News.
China’s Forestry Administration announced a three-year ban on ivory imports in March 2016 and the State Council has vowed to ban all commercial ivory trading and processing by the end of 2017, as part of its greater fight against the trade in wild animals and plants.