Hong Kong Customs yesterday (July 18) smashed an ivory tusks smuggling case at Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound, resulting in the seizure of 1 148 ivory tusks. The total value of the seizures was about $17.46 million.
Customs officers, through risk assessment, selected a 20-ft container declared to contain “plank” arriving from Togo, Africa, for inspection. After X-ray examination, the officers found the ivory tusks, weighing 2 183 kilograms in total, in the innermost part of the container. The ivory tusks were packed in 30 sacks and covered by wooden boards. The ivory tusks were not declared on the manifest and were seized by Customs officers for further investigation. Follow-up action is still on-going to locate the smuggling syndicate members.
The Group Head of Ports and Maritime Command, Mr Ng Kwok-leung, said today (July 19) at a press briefing 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 world 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 a World Customs Organization operation in 2012 and is committed to continue taking vigorous enforcement actions against the trafficking of endangered wildlife, Mr Ng 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.
Hong Kong Customs seized the ivory tusks from a 20-foot container shipped to Hong Kong.
The ivory tusks were packed in 30 sacks and covered by wood boards in the innermost part of the container.
The seized ivory tusks.
The seized ivory tusks.
Photo – Source: Customs and Excise Department - HKSAR Government