18 September 2013

Mozambique: Vietnamese Rhino Horn Smuggler Arrested

Maputo — A 29 year old Vietnamese citizen travelling from Maputo International Airport to Hong Kong has been arrested while in transit at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in Nairobi, in possession of rhinoceros horns,

The Kenyan authorities caught Le Manh Cuong smuggling five rhino horns weighing 20.1 kilogrammes. They were found in a suitcase which the Vietnamese had stuffed with mattress cuttings to hide his illegal cargo.

According to officials, cited by the Kenyan media, the smuggler had flown into the country on a scheduled Kenya Airways flight from Maputo and had been preparing to transfer to a Qatar Airways flight to Doha.

He was then planning to fly on to Hong Kong.

The illegal trade in rhino horn has seen Mozambique used as a transit point.

The horns smuggled through Mozambique are believed to have originated in South Africa, where poachers are slaughtering rhinos in the Kruger National Park

Rhino horn is highly valuable due to its use in supposedly “traditional” medicines in Asia. The medicines are fraudulent, since rhino horn has no curative power whatever. The horn is made of keratin - the same protein found in human hair and fingernails.

The Kenya Wildlife Service (KWS) says it has scaled up its surveillance of the country's ports and airports in a crackdown on smugglers of wild life products. So far this year 39 foreign nationals, including nine Vietnamese and 19 Chinese, have been arrested while trying to smuggle illegal wild life products out of Kenya.

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