Man given 13 years in prison for trading endangered animal products

February 24, 2023 - 11:46
Nguyễn Đức Tài was found guilty of illegally trading 10 tonnes of rhino horns, ivory, lion's bones, and pangolin scales and intentionally forging seals and documents.
The trial at Đà Nẵng City’s people’s court. Nguyễn Đức Tài was given a 13-year prison sentence for smuggling illegal animal products. Photos courtesy of ENV

ĐÀ NẴNG — Nguyễn Đức Tài, a 34-year-old resident of Đà Nẵng, has been sentenced to 13 years in prison by the Đà Nẵng's People's Court.

Tài was found guilty of illegally trading 10 tonnes of rhino horns, ivory, lion's bones, and pangolin scales and intentionally forging seals and documents.

On February 21st, the court declared that Tài had violated regulations to protect endangered and threatened wildlife species while using counterfeit seals and documents from organizations and agencies.

In addition to the prison sentence, Tài was fined VNĐ50 million (US$2,000).

According to a report on July 17, 2021, from the city’s Customs department, 138kg of rhino horns and 3.1 tonnes of lion’s bones were discovered during an inspection at Tiên Sa Port.

The department also found 456.9kg of ivory tusks and 6.2 tonnes of pangolin scales from Nigeria.

The smuggled goods are from species listed on the extinction list issued by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

The city’s investigation agency of Đà Nẵng’s Public Security on June 22, 2022, charged Tài with breaking wildlife protection laws and forging seals and documents.

Customs officials and police inspect an ivory tusk smuggled from Africa to Việt Nam via the sea.

Bùi Thị Hà, vice director of Education for Nature – Việt Nam (ENV), a Vietnamese non-governmental organisation, praised the successful prosecution.

“However, the final hidden mastermind of the huge wildlife product smuggling case has yet to be unveiled. Anyway, the 13-year prison sentence handed down by the Đà Nẵng’s people’s court is highly appreciated,” Hà said.

She said the case would be a sample for other provinces and cities dealing with illegal trade and transporting the banned wildlife species and products.

According to ENV, about 80 tonnes of illegal wildlife products have been seized at major sea ports of Tiên Sa in Đà Nẵng, HCM City’s Cát Lái and Hải Phòng Port since 2015.

In March 2019, Việt Nam Customs seized over nine tonnes of ivory at Đà Nẵng Por, bringing the amount seized in Việt Nam since 2004 to over 70 tonnes.

In 2018, nearly 10 tonnes of smuggled ivory and pangolin scales were discovered in a container at Đà Nẵng’s Tiên Sa Port.

In 2015, eight tonnes of ivory, rhino horns and pangolin scales were found in five containers at Tiên Sa Port.

The US Agency for International Development (USAID) partners with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development to assist Việt Nam’s customs and seaport authorities in using technology to counter wildlife trafficking.

USAID’s Saving Threatened Wildlife project, implemented by WWF, convened agencies to discuss tools and technology that combat wildlife trafficking through improved detection and interception at maritime ports. — VNS