Hong Kong customs arrests 2 passengers over suspected smuggling of tiger teeth, pangolin meat and live turtles

Hong Kong customs arrests 2 passengers over suspected smuggling of tiger teeth, pangolin meat and live turtles

Two air passengers have been arrested on suspicion of smuggling tiger teeth, pangolin meat and live turtles, Hong Kong customs revealed on Sunday.

Officials said they had arrested a 50-year-old man who arrived from Nigeria via Ethiopia and intended to take the cross-border ferry to Shekou last Friday.

Customs officers discovered 230 grams of tiger teeth and 128 grams of pangolin meat during an inspection of the man’s baggage at the SkyPier Terminal at Hong Kong International Airport.

The estimated market value of the seized items was about HK$50,000 (US$6,400).

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Tiger teeth and pangolin meat fall under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and their importation is regulated by Hong Kong’s Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance.

A 45-year-old woman who flew in from Tokyo the next day was arrested after authorities alleged she had 64 live turtles in her possession, suspected to be endangered species listed under the ordinance.

The estimated market value of the turtles was about HK$650,000.

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Tiger teeth and pangolin meat seized in Hong Kong during the arrest of an air passenger from Nigeria. Photo: SCMP

The two suspects were separately charged with the export of parts of species without the proper licence and are expected to appear at West Kowloon Courts on Monday.

Importation and exportation or possession of endangered species without permission is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a HK$10 million fine.

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Customs officers also carried out an anti-smuggling operation in Ma Wan Chung in Tung Chung last Friday and seized 24 boxes of frozen venison tails, 14 boxes of aquarium creatures and 10 bags of what was suspected to be dried shark fin.

Suspected smugglers were seen unloading goods from a vehicle onto a speedboat on the waterfront.

They jumped onto the boat and fled towards mainland Chinese waters when officers moved in.

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