China's security forces intercepted 7.48 tons of smuggled ivory tusks, the biggest seizure "in recent years" in the Asian country, local authorities announced today.
The deputy director of the General Administration of Customs, Hu Wei, said in a press conference that this large-scale operation, carried out on March 30, ended with the dismantling of an "international criminal group that trafficated with ivory during long time".
The result of more than two months of investigation was the arrest of more than twenty suspects and the confiscation of 2,748 pieces of ivory.
The operation was carried out in a coordinated manner in cities such as Beijing or Qingdao, and involved 36 police teams with 238 agents, explained the director of the anti-smuggling office of the institution, Sun Zhijie.
According to Customs data, this year have already seized 8.48 tons of ivory and ivory products, as well as 500 tons of animals and plants in danger of extinction.
During the first three months of the year, Chinese authorities have investigated 182 cases of smuggling of protected species involving 171 suspects.
These figures do not include the customs of special territories such as Hong Kong, where in February they intercepted 2.1 tons of elephant tusks and 8.3 tons of pangolin scales that, according to the authorities, were destined for the Chinese mainland. its use in traditional medicine and high quality sculptures.
Two weeks later, Hong Kong customs seized 24 rhinoceros horns with a total weight of 40 kilos, a record figure until on the 7th they intercepted a shipment of 82.5 kilos.