Breaking News! Arrest Of Man Smuggling Sliced Rhino Horn Marks 2nd Bust By Hong Kong Customs Officers This Month!

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June is turning out to be quite an eventful month for Customs officers in Hong Kong.

Yesterday, according to the customs department, officers at the Hong Kong International Airport arrested a 21-year-old man who was carrying sliced rhino horn that seems to have been smuggled past several other airport security checks in Johannesburg‚ Beira and Doha.

The man‚ whose name and nationality have not been disclosed yet‚ was caught when a load of suspected rhino horn pieces was found inside a black plastic bag in his check-in suitcase.

As per Times Live, the ivory weighed about 3.1kg and consisted of approximately 40 horn slices and dozens of smaller pieces.

Officials estimate the market value of the haul to be worth HK$620,000 or approximately R1-million.

As per the media outlet, the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC said in a previous report that criminal networks of Chinese origin were chopping up rhino horns in backyard processing facilities in Africa into beads‚ bangles and bracelets to evade detection during transit. In most cases‚ rhino horn was smuggled by air.

“The smugglers’ efforts are sometimes crude; wrapping horns in aluminum foil‚ smearing them with toothpaste and shampoo to hide the smell of decay‚ or coating them in wax‚” noted Traffic officials. “Over time‚ more sophisticated methods have emerged; horns disguised as curios and toys‚ hidden in bags of cashew nuts‚ wine boxes and consignments of wood‚ or concealed in imitation electronic and machine parts. Circuitous transit routes‚ luggage drops and exchanges are also used to confuse the trail.”

On June 6, customs officers issued a statement that they had arrested a 40-year-old man from Johannesburg with 5.9kg of suspected horn and 410 grams’ ivory, which together had an estimated street value of HK$1.2 million.

During Customs clearance, the batch of suspected rhino horn and suspected worked ivory were found concealed inside three food packing boxes in his check-in suitcase. The yet-to-be-named man was then arrested.

Both cases have been handed over to the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department for follow-up investigation.

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.

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

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