Breaking! Hong Kong Customs Officials Seize Record $8 Million In Pangolin Scales & Ivory

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Authorities in Hong Kong announced today details about what they believe to be one of the largest hauls of smuggled endangered species parts ever recovered in the city; including the most amount of pangolin scales ever seized by the country’s Customs Department.

As per a statement released by the department, the seizure resulted after Hong Kong Customs mounted a joint operation with Mainland Customs on January 16th to combat cross-boundary endangered species smuggling activities.

After receiving information from Mainland Customs and through intelligence analysis and risk assessment, Hong Kong Customs at the Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound intercepted a 40-foot container declared to contain frozen beef arriving from Nigeria.

Upon inspection, Customs officers found 8,300 kilograms (18,300 pounds) of suspected pangolin scales and 2,100 kilograms (4,600 pounds) of ivory tusks. The criminals reportedly tried to hide the endangered species by a process of “solidification” where they used ice bags and frozen meat to obscure their parts.

A male proprietor and a female staff member, aged 39 and 29, of a trading company in Mong Kok, were subsequently arrested for the alleged crime.

While the investigation is ongoing, the incident serves as a reminder that wildlife smuggling is a serious offence. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting unmanifested cargo is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing or exporting an endangered species without a license, is liable to a maximum fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years.

News of the seizure came less than two weeks after a coalition of local conservation groups called on Hong Kong to increase efforts to crack down on illegal wildlife smuggling, by ending legal loopholes and lenient sentences.

Members of the public may report any suspected smuggling activities to Customs’ 24-hour hotline (852) 2545 6182 or its dedicated crime-reporting email account at: crimereport@customs.gov.hk.

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