The director of a Richmond Hill auction firm has pleaded guilty to selling elephant ivory tusk and python skin.
Dong Heon Kim, operating in his role as director of 888 Auctions, failed to return multiple calls for comment after being convicted and fined $12,500 for exporting leather products made from python skin and elephant ivory pieces in contravention of the wild animal and plant protection act.
The investigation found that Richmond Hill’s 888 Auctions placed a small elephant ivory tusk — later determined to be from an African forest elephant, killed in 2001 — and sent the package to a buyer in the United States, incorrectly labelling it as a ‘gift ornament’.
Although no return address was listed, the items were intercepted and Kim was charged, eventually pleading guilty.
In February 2015, Auctions 888 sent a python leather skin case in the mail.
The arrest, made after the December 2013 transaction, was made while officials were acting on intelligence to Environment and Climate Change Canada’s Enforcement Branch and the U.S. fish and wildlife service.
Wildlife elephant populations in Africa have been under great pressure from poaching and trafficking in ivory. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 were poached last year.
Estimates put the value of wildlife crime worldwide between US$8 billion and US$23 billion, making it the fourth most lucrative crime area after illegal drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeiting.
Dong Heon Kim was also handed two years’ probation.