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Boston: A Chinese national was arraigned Monday in federal court in Boston on charges that he headed a conspiracy to smuggle $700,000 worth of goods made of rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral from the United States to Hong Kong.
According to the eight-count indictment, Chen would buy the artifacts at U.S. auction houses located in California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas. He then allegedly conspired with another Chinese national to pick up the items and get them to another co-conspirator who owned a shipping business in Concord.
The items would then be repacked and smuggled to Hong Kong with documents that misrepresented the contents and value the contents and did not have required declarations and permits.
According to the indictment, Chen visited the shipper in Concord in April 2014 and instructed the shipper to smuggle an elephant ivory sculpture to Hong Kong on Chen’s behalf, falsely declaring it to be worth $50 and made of wood.
Chen was arrested as part of Operation Crash, which is an effort by Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service, in coordination with the Department of Justice, capture those engaged in the illegal killing of and trafficking of certain protected species.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office said trade in items such as rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral have been regulated since 1976 under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. That treaty was signed by over 175 countries protect fish, wildlife, and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets. The animals under protection cannot be exported from the U.S. without approval from the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.