Thursday, March 24, 2016

Chinese Smugglers Get 35 Years

Two Chinese ivory smugglers posing as garlic importers were sentenced on March 18th to 30 years each for smuggling ivory from Tanzania and another 5 years each for attempting to bribe officials. The sentences are believed to be the harshest every handed down by an African court for ivory poaching. One of the convicted criminals appeared to faint in the courtroom when the sentence was handed down. The men can avoid jail time if they pay a fine of $25 million. They were convicted of illegally possessing 706 pieces of elephant tusk weighing 1.8 metric tons; according to the presiding magistrate that is equivalent to 226 elephants. Tanzania lost 892 elephants in national parks to poachers during the period 2010-13. The pair were arrested in Dar Es Salaam in 2013. The ivory was found in garlic sacks stashed in the house were they lived. Investigators worked for months following tips that large quantities of elephant ivory were being shipped to Chinese brokers in the city.  Prosecutors said there was sufficient information to believe the convicted Chinese nationals were ring leaders of a criminal poaching syndicate.