Vietnamese jailed 15 months for smuggling rhino horns through Changi Airport

Vietnamese jailed 15 months for smuggling rhino horns through Changi Airport

Rhino horns smuggled Changi Airport
Smuggled rhino horns and horn shavings that were seized at Changi Airport. (Photo: AVA) 

SINGAPORE: A 29-year-old Vietnamese man has been jailed for attempting to smuggle illegal rhino horns and horn shavings through Singapore's Changi Airport. 

The Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) said on Monday (Feb 26) that Nguyen Vinh Hai, 29, was sentenced to 15 months' imprisonment, with his sentence backdated to Sep 6, 2017. 

Acting on a tip-off, the authorities had stopped Nguyen - who was flying from Dubai to Laos via Changi Airport on Aug 31, 2017 - and inspected his luggage. 

Eight pieces of cut horns and a bag of alleged horn shavings were detected and seized. Nguyen was then arrested for further investigations, AVA said. 

As part of AVA’s investigations, DNA analysis was conducted on the seized horns and shavings and it was confirmed that they were derived from the rhinoceros, a critically endangered species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES).

AVA had worked with Singapore Customs and the Immigration and Checkpoints Authority (ICA) to investigate the smuggling attempt.

In Singapore, it is an offence to illegally import and export or re-export, transit, possess, sell, offer or advertise for sale or display to public any illegal wildlife species (including their parts and derivatives) protected under CITES. 

If convicted, offenders may be fined up to S$500,000 or jailed for two years, or both, and to the forfeiture of the contraband, AVA said. 

The Government adopts a zero tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and derivatives, AVA said. 

The authority added that it will take stern enforcement actions against any illegal wildlife smugglers. 

The public can alert AVA of any suspected cases of illegal wildlife trade and provide information via the agency's online feedback form or call the agency at 6805 2992. All information will be kept strictly confidential.

Source: CNA/am