Port officials in Vietnam seize ton of African ivory, again

By Toan Dao   October 27, 2016 | 09:29 am GMT+7
Port officials in Vietnam seize ton of African ivory, again
The elephant tusks seized by authorities at Cat Lai Port on October 26, 2016. Photo by Hai quan Online news site

This represents the fourth major ivory seizure in the month of October.

Vietnamese customs officials seized around one ton of ivory from two timber shipments sent from Africa to Cambodia via Ho Chi Minh City's Cat Lai Port on Wednesday.

Officials say the elephant tusks are worth about VND40 billion ($1.76 million).

Smugglers attempted to hide the contraband inside hollowed-out blocks of timber, which they sealed with plaster and nailed together, Vietnamplus reported Wednesday.

This latest case represents the last in a long series of October ivory seizures.

On October 6 and 21, customs officials at the Cat Lai seized around 2.5 tons of ivory concealed in timber shipments from Africa.

On October 22, the Ho Chi Minh City customs department launched a criminal investigations into the operations of the Dieu Tien Trading and Services Limited Company, which they accused of having brought two tons of ivory into the country on October 6.

These seizures followed the discovery of 300kg of ivory at Hanoi's Noi Bai International Airport on October 1.

Officials say the tusks originated in Nigeria and were falsely labeled glass.

Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992, but permitted shops to continue trading items that predated the ban. Weak law enforcement has allowed the illegal trade to persist.

In spite of Vietnam's ivory ban, the country remains a top market.

Consumers here use ivory for decorative and medicinal purposes, according to conservation groups. The country also serves as a trafficking hub for tusks bound for other parts of Asia, conservationists say.

Vietnam has brushed off such allegations.

Related news:

Half a ton of African ivory seized at Vietnam port

Germany seizes $1 million worth of illegal ivory en route to Vietnam