Sharp jump in smuggling of endangered species products
Shanghai Customs handled 92 cases of the smuggling of endangered species and their products in the first four months of this year, 10 times more than the same period last year, customs said on Friday.
By April, officers had seized more than 10 kilograms of ivory products, 316 kilograms of pangolin scales, 518 tons of red sandalwood and more than 1,000 pieces of items like drumfish bladders, dried sea horses, hippo fangs, pangolin specimens and seal fur.
Customs officials also said the range of seizures was becoming more diverse. Items are generally mailed or personally carried.
Most come from countries like Nigeria, Britain, Italy, Japan and Southeast Asia.
Another worrying trend customs officers found was that smuggling gangs are becoming more organized.
Gangs establish overseas companies to buy the goods and a network to get the goods into China.
Under Chinese law, smuggling rare animal products worth less than 200,000 yuan (US29,371) will be jailed for up to five years and a fine of between 200,000 and 1 million yuan, the length of jail term will be five to 10 years. If the amount is above 1 million yuan, the smuggler can be sentenced to life imprisonment.
The seized items are handed to national wild animal protection authorities.