Police in Hanoi have arrested three alleged members of a wildlife trafficking ring and seized a large amount of illegal products, after tracking one of them for several years, according to media reports.
The group was caught on April 27 carrying 33 kilograms (73 pounds) of rhino horn at Hanoi Railway Station, Tin Tuc, a website of the Vietnam News Agency, reported.
Police then raided the house of the suspected kingpin Nguyen Mau Chien, where they found another three kilograms (6.6 pounds) of rhino horn, two frozen tiger cubs, four lion pelts and many ivory products.
The suspects claimed they had bought the wildlife products from Africa, before moving them by air to Malaysia, Thailand and Cambodia. From these countries, the products were brought by ship and train to Vietnam to avoid detection, VTV reported.
Before his arrest, Chien had been under the police’s radar for a long time. Investigators had connected him to several cases but there was not enough evidence.
Vietnam is considered a hotspot for the illegal trade of wildlife products, which are used as medicines and decorations and often considered a status symbol.
There is no scientific proof for the assumed medicinal properties of products such as rhino horn or tiger bone glue.
Vietnamese law prohibits the hunting, killing, trading and transportation of wild animals, but the high returns continue to lure many people into trafficking networks.