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Hong Kong: Hong Kong customs officers seized almost four tonnes of ivory worth about $3.4m, hidden in shipments from Kenya and Tanzania, officials said yesterday.
The 1,209 pieces of raw ivory tusk and a small number of ivory ornaments were discovered in two containers marked “plastic scrap” and “roscoco beans”, shipped to Hong Kong earlier this week, a customs official said.
The smuggled ivory, weighing 3.81 tonnes (8,400 pounds) -- Hong Kong’s largest ever seizure -- was found hidden among bags of plastic scraps and beans by customs officers acting on a tip-off from counterparts in mainland China.
“The total seizure is worth about HK$26.7m ($3.4m),” the Hong Kong customs department said, adding that it will step up efforts with mainland Chinese authorities to combat transnational smuggling activities.
Mainland Chinese authorities arrested seven individuals, including a Hong Kong resident, in relation to the seizure, public broadcaster RTHK said.
Under Hong Kong law, anyone found guilty of importing unmanifested cargo into the southern Chinese city faces imprisonment of up to seven years and a maximum fine of HK$2m.
In addition, those guilty of importing, exporting or possessing an endangered species for commercial purposes face up to two years in jail and a maximum HK$5m fine, officials said.