Monday, 16 June 2014

Vietnamese ivory smugglers go on package holiday

Posted by: Kevin Heath / 1 day ago

A new modus operandi could be coming into force as Hong Kong customs intercepted 15 Vietnamese passengers on the same flight who were carrying ivory in cabin luggage. By using lots of ‘mules’ carrying small quantities of ivory in ‘carry-on’ bags smugglers may be hoping to reduce the risk of discovery.

In total the 15 passengers, who were agreed between 20 to 54, were carrying 790kg of ivory and tusks. The travel plans of the passengers involved flights from Angola via Ethiopia in to Hong Kong. The smugglers were then to fly from Hong Kong to Cambodia via South Korea.

The ivory was discovered after passengers luggage were put through routine inspections. Customs officers revealed that some of the tusks were still blood-stained from being hacked away fromelephants and that there was a bad smell when many of the cases were opened.

“The Hong Kong authorities are to be congratulated for their diligence in detecting this sizeable quantity of ivory, but the case throws up many questions and could be harbinger of new criminal tactics emerging in the illicit ivory trade,” said Tom Milliken, TRAFFIC’s ivory trade expert.

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