Hong Kong Customs on January 3, seized a total of 779 ivory tusks from a 20-foot container shipped to Hong Kong. The seizure was worth about $10.6 million.
Through risk assessment, Customs officers selected a container declared to contain “architectural stones” arriving from Kenya, Africa, for inspection. Using X-ray examination, the officers found the ivory tusks, weighing 1,323 kilograms in total, in the middle part of the container. Covered by stone plates, the ivory tusks were packed in 40 sacks inside five wooden crates.
Customs investigation is still going on to locate the smuggling syndicate members.
The Group Head of Ports and Maritime Command, Mr Wong Sui-hang, said at a press briefing (4 January) that Hong Kong Customs would continue to co-operate with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department and other law enforcement agencies to enforce the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance to deter the trafficking of endangered species.
Customs administrations around the globe have heightened their awareness in combating illegal trade in wildlife with a special focus on animals controlled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora such as elephants and rhinoceroses from Africa. Hong Kong Customs participated in the World Customs Organization operation in 2012 and took vigorous enforcement actions against trafficking of endangered wildlife, Mr Wong added.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing unmanifested cargoes is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.
In addition, under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of trading in endangered species for commercial purposes is liable to a maximum fine of $5 million and imprisonment for two years.