Viet Nam News
HCM CITY — Customs authorities intercepted and inspected a shipment from Diệu Tiến company on October 6 and found hundreds of tusks, suspected to be elephant tusks, weighing two tonnes in total.
Yesterday, the customs branch of Saigon sea port’s first zone, in collaboration with the Customs Control Unit, under HCM City’s customs department, and the Anti-Smuggling and Investigation Department (C74), under the Ministry of Public Security, carried out inspection of two containers of Sapele timber imported into Việt Nam via the Cát Lái port (District 2, HCM City). They discovered 12 timber logs had been tampered with.
After dismantling the first four timber logs, customs officials found 115 tusks, suspected to be elephant’s tusks, weighing over 500kg.
By the end of the inspection, completed by midnight, of all 12 logs, several hundred tusks were recovered, weighing some 2052kg.
The customs branch has requested the Institute of Ecology, under the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development, to examine the entire shipment, identifying the type and size in accordance with Việt Nam’s regulations and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).
On October 5, Diệu Tiên Trading Limited Company (Tân Bình District) declared at customs that they were importing 100 per cent new timber originating from Mozambique that was packed in two containers.
After receiving the customs declaration, officers reported the case and were instructed to conduct an inventory and screening of the shipment.
It is then discovered that the timber logs were hollow to hide the tusks inside. Sand and sawdust were used to fill the empty spaces. The teak logs were transformed into tools for international tusks smuggling.
Lieutenant General Đồng Đại Lộc, deputy general of the Department of Police, under the Ministry of Public Security (MoPS), acknowledged and praised the excellent achievement of involved authorities.
If the tusks prove to be real elephants’ tusks, the MoPS will prosecute and investigate the case further.
Deputy Prime Minister Trương Hoà Bình also lauded the find and requested all involved authorities to urgently investigate and bust the smuggling chain, as prescribed under law.
The find is significant, not only because of the large number of tusks, but also due to the alarmingly sophisticated method that the smugglers used to bypass law enforcement.
Elephants are an endangered species and the international trade of tusks requires permission from the CITES – a global treaty to which Việt Nam is a signatory – formulated to protect threatened plants and animals.
Earlier, in a directive issued on September 17, 2016, Prime Minister Nguyễn Xuân Phúc instructed the Ministry of Public Security and other concerned ministries to “organise campaigns to destroy trans-border organised crime groups, which are involved in trading, storing, trafficking and importing/exporting illegal specimens of wildlife species, especially ivory and rhino horns.”
A real elephant tusk can easily fetch a billion đong at market price. — VNS