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Man arrested for trading rhino horns, ivory through shell companies

By Ngoc Truong   June 22, 2022 | 11:40 pm PT
The Da Nang City police have arrested a man running shell companies to allegedly smuggle wild animal parts from Africa to Vietnam.

Nguyen Duc Tai, 33, is under investigation for "violating regulations on management and protection of endangered, precious and rare animals."

The Police Division for Corruption, Smuggling and Economics Crimes made the arrest on Wednesday after monitoring his activities for over a year.

Nguyen Duc Tai, a native in central Vietnam, is under arrest for allegedly running a wildlife trafficking ring, June 2022. Photo by police

Nguyen Duc Tai, a native in central Vietnam, is under arrest for allegedly running a wildlife trafficking ring, June 2022. Photo by police

Early last year they had placed several suspects under surveillance after discovering they had used fake ID cards to set up companies.

The companies are all registered to import and export goods but the police could not identify their headquarters or see them undertake any other activity except importing goods from Africa.

In July last year the economic police division checked a consignment declared as containing wooden floors imported from South Africa by one of the companies set up by the group, and found inside 52 rhino horns weighing more than 138 kilograms and lion bones weighing 3.1 tons.

In January authorities inspected a container imported from Nigeria purportedly with cashew nuts and found 456 kg of ivory and 6.23 tons of pangolin scales.

An investigation into the companies by the police identified Tai as the leader of the ring.

A search of his residence turned up a bag of pangolin scales he had kept as a sample to show buyers.

The rhino horns seized by the police at Tien Sa Port in Da Nang City from a wildlife trafficking ring allegedly run by Nguyen Duc Tai in July 2021. Photo by police.

The rhino horns seized by the police at Tien Sa Port in Da Nang City from a wildlife trafficking ring allegedly run by Nguyen Duc Tai in July 2021. Photo by police

The police said it was one of the biggest transnational wildlife trafficking cases ever busted.

Vietnam is a major hub for the illegal trade of wildlife and animal parts.

In many cases, after being imported into Vietnam, the goods are sold to China, Laos and Cambodia at prices of around $100,000 for a kilogram of rhino horns, $3,000 for ivory and $300 for pangolin scales.

 
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