Home Feature News ‘Godfather’ of illicit wildlife commerce jailed in US for trafficking rhino horns price $2 million | CNN

‘Godfather’ of illicit wildlife commerce jailed in US for trafficking rhino horns price $2 million | CNN

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‘Godfather’ of illicit wildlife commerce jailed in US for trafficking rhino horns price $2 million | CNN

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CNN
 — 

A US court docket on Tuesday sentenced a wildlife commerce kingpin to 18 months in jail for conspiring to site visitors a whole lot of kilos of rhino horns, in a ruling conservation teams mentioned would trigger a serious blow to the illicit enterprise.

Teo Boon Ching, a Malaysian citizen nicknamed “the Godfather” by investigators, was a part of a conspiracy to smuggle unlawful rhino horns to worldwide patrons, together with in Manhattan, in accordance with a information launch from the US Lawyer for the Southern District of New York.

Ching, who was already beneath US sanctions, was arrested in Thailand final 12 months and later extradited to america, the discharge mentioned.

“Wildlife trafficking is a severe risk,” mentioned Damian Williams, US Lawyer for the Southern District of New York, within the launch. “The substantial sentence exhibits the resolve of this workplace to make use of each device at our disposal to make sure the safety of endangered species.”

Rhinos are critically endangered regardless of persistent efforts to save lots of the species. Their numbers have dropped drastically as a result of looking and habitat loss and mere 1000’s stay within the wild in Africa and Asia, in accordance with the World Wildlife Fund.

A profitable black market commerce is pushed by demand for conventional drugs in Asia – particularly in China and Vietnam. Rhino horn is manufactured from keratin – the identical materials present in human nails – and there’s little scientific proof it has any medical efficacy.

Rhinos are among the world's most critically endangered animals despite efforts to save the species.

‘Physique blow’

Prosecutors mentioned a covert operation uncovered Ching’s efforts to site visitors about 219 kilograms [483 pounds] of rhino horns “ensuing from the poaching of quite a few rhinoceros” with an estimated worth of $2.1 million.

In August 2019, on the course of regulation enforcement, a supply purchased 12 rhino horns from Ching with cash that he believed have been the proceeds of different unlawful wildlife trafficking and was in financial institution accounts in New York, officers mentioned.

The horns have been delivered in a suitcase in Thailand by these working for the wildlife trafficking group, officers mentioned.

Ching was arrested in Thailand on June 29, 2022 on the request of US authorities and extradited to america on October 7, 2022.

The London-based Environmental Investigation Company (EIA), which equipped intelligence on Ching to US enforcement brokers, mentioned his jailing was a “physique blow” to the unlawful wildlife commerce.

“Chinese language and Vietnamese organized crime networks have lengthy exploited Malaysia and different Southeast Asian international locations as transit hubs for smuggling unlawful wildlife commodities from Africa into Asia,” an EIA assertion learn.

“The jailing of Teo Boon Ching and associated US Treasury Division sanctions towards him and his alleged trafficking organisation represent a body-blow to their capacity to perform.”

In an announcement, Olivia Swaak-Goldman, govt director of the non-profit Wildlife Justice Fee, mentioned Ching’s conviction “sends a powerful message that wildlife crime will not be tolerated.”

“His arrest and imprisonment has considerably disrupted the unlawful wildlife commerce,” she mentioned.

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