A Chinese national surnamed Xue has been extradited back to the PRC after being arrested by Kenyan authorities in part of an illegal ivory trade crack-down. Xue was arrested after an investagation that began in November, the same month that a Chinese man was found with 1.9 tons off illegal ivory in his Tanzania home, although the cases seem to be unrelated.
Xue was arrested along with two other suspects, also Chinese nationals. The investigation began after one of Xue’s accomplices was caught in a Shenyang airport with more than 1,000 ivory beads crammed into a suitcase, which he had labeled as “nuts.” He was, of course, caught, and authorities were able to track the beads back to their origins in Kenya, where local authorities then hunted down Xue and company.
Not only is Xue a trafficker, but he’s apparently something of a cheapskate, too; South China Morning Post reports that Xue paid his smugglers between five and ten thousand yuan to sneak (well, attempt to sneak) their cargo past customs which, compared to the lucrative profits to be made from black-market ivory, isn’t exactly generous.
As African authorities begin to amp-up their anti-ivory efforts, Chinese smugglers and consumers keep getting more bad press. As SCMP reports:
Shi Jianbin, head of Traffic, a global network that monitors the [ivory] trade, said the operation had uncovered a few hundred cases and a similar number of suspects had been arrested. About 60 per cent of the cases involve China.
“This reflects the reality that China is one of the countries where the illegal wildlife trade is most rampant,” he said. “It’s also a result of the tough measures China’s law enforcement agencies have taken against wildlife crimes.”
China is the largest market for illegal ivory and Kenya one of the main sources, even though elephant hunting is banned in the east African country.
China has taken some efforts to reduce its ivory consumption (let’s be real, if it weren’t for stupid expensive trinkets and aphrodisiacs, there would be essentially no demand in China) and these arrests were part of “Operation Cobra 2,” an international anti-ivory effort between 28 countries, China and Kenya included.