Monday, 2 June 2014

Chinese antique dealer gets nearly 6 years jail in United States

Posted by: Kevin Heath / 4 days ago

A court in the United States has handed out a 70 month sentences to a 30 year old Chinese antiquedealer who bought up rhino horns and ivory and illegally shipped them to China. It is one of the longest sentences that US courts have issued for illegal trading in wildlife and products. His accomplice Qiang Wang had been sentenced to 3 years in December.

Zhifei Li is thought to have masterminded and headed the network that saw USD 4.5 million worth of rhino horns and antique ivory ad tusks shipped from the United States to the markets of China and East Asia. It is thought that his operation saw 30 rhino horns removed from the United States.

Li owned a company called Overseas Treasure Finding in Shandong, China and he used 3 antiquedealers across the United States to find horns and tusks for sale from private collections. He was finally caught following a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service sting operation in January 2013.

In the operation Li was recorded buying 2 rare black rhino horns from undercover agents for $59,000.

Despite the apparently long sentence of 70 months the judge, U.S. District Judge Esther Salas, opted to go lenient of Li who pleaded guilty. The 70 month sentences was the minimum that he could impose according to government guidelines on sentencing. Li had pleaded guilty to all 11 charges that he faced.

Li was also ordered to pay USD 3.5 million in compensation and he agreed to return to China after serving his sentence.

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