(Inspection)- In recent years, many transnational wildlife traders and transporters have chosen the maritime route to bring ivory, rhino horn, pangolin scales, and other rare and endangered wildlife products to Vietnam due to the benefits of transporting large volumes of goods at low cost and with little risk of being detected and handled.
Huge amounts of rhino horn, ivory, and animal items were captured on their way into Vietnam by sea. Photographer: QD
According to the Center for Education for Nature (ENV), from 2015 to the present, authorities across the nation have discovered only ivory, rhino horn, and pangolin scales., confiscated approximately 80 tons of exhibits at maritime regions in Vietnam. Tien Sa port (Da Nang), Cat Lai port (Ho Chi Minh City), and Hai Phong port are the most important.
On February 6, 2023, for example, officials at Lach Huyen International Port in Hai Phong unsealed the lead clamp of a 40-foot container with suspicious signs. During the examination, 42 pieces of ivory weighing a total of 125kg were discovered in the sacks. This quantity of ivory is put with the horns of farmed cows, which are sent by sea from Africa to Vietnam.
Earlier, on February 2, the Hai Phong Customs Department worked with the Command of the Coast Guard Region 1 and functional forces to physically check the consignment by protocols, capturing 117 pieces of ivory weighing 490 kg.
Consequently, Hai Phong Customs seized more than 600kg of ivory from African countries after only two incidents of scrutinizing containers with odd indicators arrived by sea at ports.
The respondents employed increasingly complex techniques, such as phony paperwork to establish “ghost” firms to perform smuggling activities. Smuggled shipments of approximately 10 tons of rhino horn, ivory, pangolin scales, and lion bones from Africa to Vietnam, for example, were detected at Tien Sa port and certified by the People’s Court of Da Nang. On February 21, they were taken to trial.
According to the accusation, Nguyen Duc Tai (SN 1989, Cam Xuyen district, Ha Tinh province) had an affair with a man called July (unknown relative, background).
Tai established two “ghost” firms from February to September 2021, at the supervision of July, to import 456.90kg of ivory, 138,784kg of rhino horn, 6,230kg of pangolin scales, and 3,108kg of lion bones from outside to Vietnam via Da Nang port. The overall value of the exhibits, in this case, is believed to be up to 300 billion VND.
July, in particular, supplied a copy of Ninh Thai Cuong’s identity card (SN 1983, residence Nghe An – dead) to Tai in February 2021. Tai then recruited someone to complete the paperwork for Nam Thai Cuong Co., Ltd.
On May 3, 2021, the bill of lading number MIDUJ155030, container number MSDU1006024 declared the name of the goods to be transported as a wooden floor, the consignee was Sawad on Behalf of Trader Dynamo Company (South Africa), and the receiving unit was Sawad on Behalf of Trader Dynamo Company (South Africa). Nam Thai Cuong Co., Ltd. supplied the items, which landed at Da Nang port on July 17, 2021.
Subject Tai did not follow the protocols and abandoned the commodities after being detected inside the container containing 52 rhino horns weighing 138,784 kg and 93 cartons of lion bones totaling 3,108 kg.
July continues to encourage Tai to put up a “ghost” firm in August 2021. At this time, Tai went online and acquired a phony identification card under the name Nguyen Nhat Long, then applied to form Quang Nhat Long Co., Ltd.
When the goods arrived at the port, the Da Nang Port Border Gate Customs Branch conducted a search of means of transport and objects by administrative procedures; the results of the examination were discovered inside the container containing 17,346 kg of seeds, cashews, 456.9 kg of ivory, and 6,232 kg of pangolin scales. Tai deleted all artifacts and papers relating to the infractions of the two “ghost” firms.
According to statistics, except for four arrests at Tien Sa port in Da Nang in 2015, which were brought to trial in 2018, and the case that was just heard related to the aforementioned Nguyen Duc Tai, the authorities have not been able to detect and handle the relevant subjects for the remaining wildlife transport services at seaports. Nowadays, Vietnam is regarded as an international transit and consumption destination for ivory, rhino horn, and huge pangolin scales.
According to Ms. Bui Thi Ha, Deputy Director of ENV, the fact that functional forces continuously seized a large volume of endangered, precious, and rare wildlife and their products in the seaport area is an initial success, contributing to disrupting the supply chain and trade, thereby reducing a portion of illegal traffickers’ illicit profits. Nevertheless, just arresting the exhibits without finding and dealing with the important people, particularly those holding the heads to light, would not be sufficient to destroy the criminal lines. As a result, it is not possible to halt the existing complex multinational wildlife trafficking and transportation.
“With especially high earnings from the wildlife trafficking, if and only if the authorities continue their investigation beyond the initial arrests to define the ring, how it operates and discover the subjects. We will be effective in dismantling these criminal lines if we take the lead and firmly treat these issues by the law, making good strides ahead in our efforts to fight and prevent crime,” said Ms. Bui Thi Ha.