– News from the customs:
The Ports and Maritime Command of Hong Kong Customs conducted a series of anti-smuggling operations from late September and seized 189 ivory tusks in three containers with a total value of about $11.53 million.
Customs officers, through risk assessment, selected three shipments declared to contain “Soya” arriving from Cote d’Ivoire, Africa, for inspection. After X-ray examination, the officers found the ivory tusks, weighing 769 kilograms in total, in the innermost parts of the containers. The ivory tusks were packed in linen and nylon bags and covered by bags of soya.
The ivory tusks were not declared on the manifests and were seized by Customs officers for further investigation. Follow-up action is ongoing to locate the smuggling syndicate members.
The Head of Ports and Maritime Command, Mr Vincent Wong, said on October 3 at a press conference 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 continuing to take vigorous enforcement action against the 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.
A container loaded with bags of soya.
Unmanifested ivory tusks were found near the innermost part of the container.
Some of the seized ivory tusks.
The seized ivory tusks.
Photo – Source: Customs and Excise Department – HKSAR Government