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Monday
Jul172017

Malaysian Customs arrest Vietnamese national carrying two suitcases filled with ivory

A Malaysian Customs officer displays the contents of one of the two suitcases seized ©: Uma Kanapathy / TRAFFIC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 17th July 2017—Royal Malaysian Customs have arrested a Vietnamese national with an estimated 36 kg of partially processed ivory pieces in two suitcases at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA).

The suspect had travelled to Malaysia from Addis Ababa on an Ethiopian airlines on 14th July and had checked-in the ivory laden bags.

Dato Hamzah Sundang, Director of Customs at KLIA told a press conference today that they were looking into where in Africa the suspect had begun his journey. Malaysia was his last known stop.
He also told media that the suspect had permanent resident status in Mozambique and that the man had travelled to Malaysia twice before.

A close-up of some of the partially processed ivory pieces seized © Elizabeth John / TRAFFIC The man is being held under remand for 14 days from 15th July and is expected to face charges under Section 135 (1) (a) of the Customs Act 1967 for illegal import of prohibited goods.

If found guilty, he faces a fine of between 10 and 20 times the value of the seized shipment, or up to three years in jail, or both.

This is not the first time Vietnamese nationals have been caught trafficking ivory to Malaysia. In March 2016, two Vietnamese men were nabbed at KLIA upon arrival carrying bags containing 101 kg of ivory. Later that same day another bag containing 58 kg was found at the airport. At the time authorities said that they believed the bag belonged to a Vietnamese passenger who had flown in from Ethiopia, bound for Hanoi.

A string of recent seizures in Malaysia has put a spotlight on wildlife trafficking between Africa and Asia.

“Recent seizures of rhino horn, pangolin scales and tortoises from Africa shows that illegal traders continue to use Malaysia when smuggling wildlife products into and through Asia,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, TRAFFIC’s Acting Regional Director for Southeast Asia.

“It is important that African, Malaysian and Vietnamese authorities to work together to break the links in this cross-continental illegal wildlife trade.”

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