Two Suspects Arrested In China For Allegedly Smuggling Up To 13.1 Tons Of Pangolin Scales In Largest Seizure Ever By Border Inspectors

Customs officials in the Shenzhen, Guangdong province announced yesterday that two men had been arrested for allegedly smuggling a staggering 13.1 tons of pangolin scales into the country from Africa in July.

According to various reports including China Daily, this seizure marked the largest volume of any one case discovered by border inspectors.

Sadly, despite the fact that pangolins have the highest level of protection against illegal trading by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species, the haul was likely the result of the slaughter of an estimated 20,000 to 30,000 of the world’s most trafficked mammals.

Four months after the massive confiscation, police arrested two people allegedly involved in the case after they confessed that they bought the scales from an African country and transported them back disguised as charcoal.

The delay in the arrests was reportedly due to a long investigation hampered by the lack of information from the shipping parties on the bill of lading.

One suspect, surnamed Li, is from Shandong province while the other, He, is from Anhui province. According to, Li first obtained the scales from Africa before shipping them to He, who received the cargo and handled the sales.

As previously reported by WAN, pangolins are often smuggled into China because their meat is considered a delicacy, as well as the false belief by many that the scales have medicinal purposes, despite no scientific evidence to support the claim.

Perpetrators who catch, kill, buy or sell endangered wild animals on the state’s protection list may face more than 10 years in prison and heavy fines.

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