Vietnam police further probe rhino horn trading ring after $1mn seizure

May 13, 2015 | 08:18
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Vietnamese police have expanded their investigation into asuspected rhino horn trading ring after capturing nearly 40 kilograms of horn en route to the north from the south last week.

Police officers in the north-central province of Nghe An are working on the case after catching two men illegally transporting 31 pieces of rhino horn, weighing 37 kilograms in total, by train on Saturday.

The capture took place at the Si Market train station in Dien Chau Districtafter police officers received a tip-off about wildlife horn being transported from Ho Chi Minh City to Hanoi.

At the scene, police caught Doan Duy Dinh, 32, from the north-central province of Thanh Hoa, and Le Thanh Trung, 32, from the capital city, red-handed transporting the rhino horns in three traveling bags.

After an inspection, police officers confirmed that all the horns were from rhinos and were estimated to be worth about VND22 billion (US$1 million), according to news website Cong An Nghe An (Nghe An Police) Online.

Dinh told police that a stranger met him last Tuesday in Nghe An and asked him to travel to Ho Chi Minh City to ship the horns to the province for VND40 million.

After accepting the offer, Dinh asked Trung to accompany him and went to the southern city by train before getting on another train to go back.

Vietnamese state agencies have discovered many illegal rhino trading and smuggling cases in the year to date.

In the middle of last month, customs officers at Noi Bai International Airport in Hanoi discovered over 65.4 kilograms of suspected rhino horns and elephant tusks hidden in two packages sent from France, reported.

The customs force at the airport, in coordination with the anti-smuggling bureau under the Vietnam Customs and the Customs Department of Hanoi, inspected the entire shipment following a tip-off about its suspicious signs.

Customs officers then found the shipment containing wild animal products suspected to be rhino horns and elephant tusks, including 18 pieces of animal tusks weighing more than 60kg, and three animal horns.

This was the first time customs had discovered a shipment of wildlife products sent from Europe to the airport, signaling that smugglers are finding new routes to transport such banned items to Vietnam, customs officers said.

Earlier, such smuggled shipments were often transferred by air from African countries to the Southeast Asian country.

The price of rhino horns on the black market can be up to $133 per gram, while that of ivory is around $2,100 per kg.


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