A huge haul of ivory illegally smuggled from Angola and destined for Cambodia was seized by Hong Kong customs yesterday after mechanical problems forced the plane carrying the cargo to undergo an inspection.
Fifteen Vietnamese smugglers aged between 20 and 54 were arrested after customs unloaded the plane’s cargo and discovered 790 kilograms of elephant ivory.
Ng King-hong, head of Airport Command at the Hong Kong Customs and Excise Department, said that it was unusual for such a large consignment of tusks to be transported by air.
“They definitely wanted to skip Hong Kong. But unfortunately [for them] their flight broke down,” he said.
The seizure follows a number of high-profile discoveries of ivory smuggling in recent months in Cambodia.
Seng Teak, regional conservation director of WWF Greater Mekong, said: “Ivory traffickers may perceive Cambodia as a weak link for transporting ivory.… However, the recent seizures of ivory across Cambodia demonstrate strong action by Cambodian government agencies.” AFP