Cus­toms of­fi­cers seize smug­gled rare an­i­mal parts

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By ZHENG CAIXIONG in Guangzhou zheng­caix­iong@ chi­

Cus­toms of­fi­cers in Guangzhou, Guang­dong prov­ince, have seized 7.26 met­ric tons of pan­golin scales after crack­ing down on a series of smug­gling cases in­volv­ing en­dan­gered an­i­mals and their prod­ucts in July and Au­gust.

Zheng Jun, deputy di­rec­tor of Guangzhou Cus­toms’ anti-smug­gling bureau, said it is the largest amount of pan­golin scales seized by Guangzhou Cus­toms this year.

“The crack­down has dealt a heavy blow to the smug­gling that in­volves en­dan­gered an­i­mals and their prod­ucts in Guang­dong prov­ince, known as the south­ern gate of the coun­try,” Zheng said at a news con­fer­ence on Wed­nes­day.

“The large amount of pan­golin scales smug­gled from Africa in­di­cated be­tween 12,000 and 18,000 pan­golins had been slaugh­tered, as a pan­golin usu­ally has from 0.4 to 0.6 kilo­grams of scales,” he said.

A spe­cial task force was es­tab­lished to fo­cus on in­ves­ti­gat­ing the case when cus­toms of­fi­cers seized a to­tal of 2,260 kilo­grams of pan­golin scales at a cus­toms check­point in Yunfu, Guang­dong, on July 11.

The smug­gled pan­golin scales, in 113 white wo­ven bags, were found in a con­tainer that was de­clared at cus­toms to be gran­ite.

After weeks of in­ves­ti­ga­tion, cus­toms of­fi­cers seized an­other 2.6 tons and 2.3 tons of pan­golin scales in two spe­cial op­er­a­tions in Guangzhou in Au­gust. All the smug­gled pan­golin scales were de­clared at cus­toms to be gran­ite.

Ac­cord­ing to Liang Jinkun, a se­nior of­fi­cer at Zhao­qing Cus­toms, which is ad­min­is­tered by Guangzhou Cus­toms, four sus­pects — sur­named Liang, Liu, Wu and Du — have been de­tained for fur­ther in­ves­ti­ga­tion. The sus­pects, who

The crack­down has dealt a heavy blow to the smug­gling that in­volves en­dan­gered an­i­mals.”

come from the Guang­dong cities of Yunfu, Foshan and Shan­tou, are in their 30s and 40s.

“Last year, Liu asked Liang, who once worked in Africa, to pur­chase pan­golin scales there and smug­gle them back to the main­land for a big profit,” Liang Jinkun, the of­fi­cer, said.

The price of pan­golin scales was about 340 yuan ($50) a kilo­gram in Africa while they could be sold for about 5,600 yuan a kilo­gram in the black mar­ket in Guang­dong, he added.

Pan­golin meat is re­garded as highly nu­tri­tious, while its scales are used in tra­di­tional Chi­nese medicine to help cure rheuma­tism, car­bun­cles and mas­ti­tis — as well as for detox­i­fi­ca­tion.

“All the smug­gled pan­golin scales will be de­stroyed. Any trad­ing of pan­golin scales or other prod­ucts of en­dan­gered an­i­mals is banned on the Chi­nese main­land,” Liang Jinkun said.

Pan­golins are now un­der strict State pro­tec­tion, he said.

Of­fi­cial sta­tis­tics from Guangzhou Cus­toms list nine smug­gling cases in­volv­ing en­dan­gered an­i­mals and their parts and prod­ucts that were busted since the be­gin­ning of the year.

In ad­di­tion to the large amount of pan­golin scales, cus­toms of­fi­cers seized 67.5 kilo­grams of boa skins, a large num­ber of ivory prod­ucts, seven live lizards and a live tor­toise.

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