Nearly eight tonnes of smuggled ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales were discovered after a two-week investigation, deputy head of the central region’s anti-smuggling team Pham Van Thien said today.
He told Viet Nam News the investigation was jointly conducted by the investigation agency under the General Department of Customs, the public security ministry’s anti-smuggling police, Border Guard Force and the central city’s port administration.
“We have completed the investigation and examination of the largest amount of wildlife products smuggled via ships at the central city’s Tien Sa Port,” Thien said, after the final examination of the smuggled goods.
“It’s one of the largest amounts of ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales smuggled via ships that we have discovered in Viet Nam. The goods were disguised as ‘marble, wood and small red beans’ in five 20ft containers in ships from Mozambique, Nigeria and Malaysia’s Pasir Gudang.
“We had trailed the shipment with information provided by anti-smuggling forces from different countries in the region, and police and border guard forces in the central city,” Thien said.
He said the investigative forces had seized smuggled goods sent from African and Malaysia ports to Tien Sa Port between August 10 and 13.
The seized goods were identified as containing ivory, pangolin scales and rhino horns, weighing a total 7.9 tonnes, which comprised 3.78 tonnes of ivory, four tonnes of rhino horns and 122.5kg of pangolin scales.
He said the Van An Company and Hung Huy Bao in the city were two importers of the smuggled goods, but they had refused to take the commodities.
A member of the team said the two companies actually were one unit, comprising a mother company and its subsidiary.
He said the smuggled goods were shipped to different ports to avoid detection by investigative agencies.
Thien said the smuggled goods were included in Appendix I (species threatened with extinction) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
Ports and airports in the central city are seen as ideal trans-provincial rendezvous points for wildlife traffickers.
The central city’s customs department had also seized a suitcase containing 31.6kg of ivory from Singapore in 2013.
According to a CITES report, 6,200kg of frozen pangolins from Indonesia were seized at Hai Phong Port in 2013.