Alleged rhino horn smuggler busted at Vietnam airport

By VnExpress   July 31, 2016 | 01:43 am PT
Alleged rhino horn smuggler busted at Vietnam airport
The smuggled rhino horns that have been busted at Tan Son Nhat International Airport. Photo courtesy of Tan Son Nhat Customs
The contraband would have fetched around $200,000 on the black market.

Customs officers at Tan Son Nhat International Airport on Sunday arrested a Vietnamese man accused of smuggling four rhino horns believed to have originated in Africa.

The 42-year-old man, whose name was not revealed, cut the horns into small pieces and carefully hid them in formula milk tubs that were stored in his luggage, according to customs officers, but they did not name the country where the horns had come from.

The horns would have fetched around VND4.5 billion ($201,000) on the Vietnamese black market, the customs officers said.

The investigation is ongoing.

The rhino horn trade was banned globally by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in 1977.

International conservation groups have identified Vietnam and China as the world's two major consumers of rhino horns, a charge the two countries have refuted.

Vietnam has outlawed the commercial use of rhinoceros horn, which is composed largely of the protein keratin, the chief component in human hair and fingernails.

The trade has been fueled by a misguided belief in its supposed medicinal properties, including its ability to cure cancer. Many also flaunt the horns as a status symbol.

The Javan rhino was confirmed extinct in Vietnam in 2010.

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