Notorious Wildlife Trafficker Teo Boon Ching Is Facing More Than 20 Years In Prison For Large-Scale Rhino Horn Trafficking
Malaysian wildlife trafficker, Teo Boon Ching, was charged with participating in a conspiracy to traffic more than 70 kilograms of rhino horns valued at more than $725,000. Ching is charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and two counts of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
As previously reported by WAN, Ching was arrested in Thailand on June 29th at the request of the United States pursuant to an established bilateral extradition treaty.
“Teo Boon Ching is alleged to be the leader of a transnational criminal enterprise trafficking in rhinoceros horns, enriching poachers responsible for the senseless illegal slaughter of numerous endangered rhinoceros, and furthering the market for these illicit products. The protection of endangered wildlife and the preservation of our natural resources is an important priority for this Office,” Damian Williams, the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York, said in a statement. “Thanks to the tireless efforts of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, this defendant has been caught and brought to the United States to answer for his alleged crimes.”
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Assistant Director Edward J. Grace called Ching’s extradition “a major success for wildlife and people.”
“Wildlife traffickers run complex international criminal enterprises that require a multinational law enforcement effort to investigate, arrest, and prosecute them for their crimes,” stated Grace. “I laud the efforts of our special agents, the U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Department of State Office of Foreign Assets Control, and especially the Royal Thai Police for their commitment in addressing this global problem that is pushing many species to extinction.”
As alleged in the superseding indictment unsealed on Friday in Manhattan federal court, Ching was the leader of a transnational criminal enterprise based in Asia with significant operations in Malaysia and Thailand. Ching and his team participated in the large-scale international trafficking and smuggling of rhinoceros horns resulting from the poaching of numerous endangered rhinoceros. Trade involving endangered or threatened species violates several U.S. laws, as well as international treaties implemented by certain U.S. laws.
According to the indictment, “Ching served as a specialized smuggler, transporting rhinoceros horns from rhinoceros poaching operations primarily in Africa to the eventual customers primarily in Asia. Ching also claimed to be able to ship rhinoceros horns to the United States.”
On a number of occasions in July of 2019, Ching met with a confidential source to negotiate the sale of rhinoceros horns. During those meetings, Ching stated that he served as a “middleman,” one who acquires rhinoceros horns poached by co-conspirators in Africa and ships them to customers around the world for a per-kilogram fee. During their communications, Ching sent numerous photographs of rhinoceros horns that he had available for sale and shipment.
In August of 2019, the confidential source, at the direction of law enforcement, purchased 12 rhinoceros horns from Ching. On August 23rd, Ching then arranged for his co-conspirators to deliver twelve rhinoceros horn pieces to undercover law enforcement personnel in Bangkok, Thailand. A United States Fish and Wildlife Service forensics laboratory examined these rhinoceros horns and concluded that two horn pieces were black rhinoceros horns and the other 10 pieces were white rhinoceros horns, both endangered species.
Sadly, despite the fact that the international trade in rhino horn has been highly regulated and largely banned for decades, horns and items remain highly valued commodities in certain countries. As a result of widespread poaching between 1970 and 1992, an estimated 96% of black rhinos, one of two types of African rhino species, were lost to poaching.
Today, there are only approximately 5,000 black rhinos remaining in the wild.
You can help all animals and our planet by choosing compassion on your plate and in your glass. #GoVeg