Malaysia: Customs seize 8,000kg of pangolin scales worth RM100mil

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 11 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Some 8,000kg of pangolin scales worth a whopping RM100mil in illicit trade were seized by Customs at the Sepanggar Bay container port here.

Sabah Customs and Excise Department director Datuk Janathan Kandok said the pangolin scales were found in 266 gunny sacks owned by a private company that was meant for export on July 29.

He said a 43-year-old local man, the owner of the company, has been detained.

"Our initial investigations show that the scales were on its way to China," he said at a press conference at Wisma Kastam Sabah here Friday.

Janathan said it was uncertain if the scales were from local pangolins, and did not rule out the possibility that it was smuggled from neighbouring countries.

He said it is estimated that the scales came from some 16,000 pangolins, which is an endangered species.

Pangolin scales are used for medicinal and food by certain people and has high demand for its unproven aphrodisiac value.

Janathan said the suspect had hidden the scales under various types of marine shells to trick Customs officials.

However, on closer examination, they discovered the pangolin scales beneath the sacks.

Janathan said investigations are being carried out under Section 135(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for exporting banned goods.


Where did that 8,000kg of pangolin scales come from?
MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 12 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah is keen to find out the origin of the 8,000kg of pangolin scales worth RM100mil that was seized by the state Customs and Excise Department at its Sepanggar container port here on July 29.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Augustine Tuuga said his team wants to take DNA samples to establish whether the pangolin scales were from Sabah or somewhere else.

"We won't have any idea (of the origin of the pangolin scales) unless there is a DNA analysis," he said on Saturday.

"We also believe they may not be necessarily from this region, and could be from Africa as it was with those seized at Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in May," he added.

Tuuga was referring to the seizure of 700kg of pangolin scales as well as ivory tusks earlier this year, all originating from Africa.

He said his department was also prepared to take action under the state's conservation laws for smuggling, noting that trading in pangolins was banned under state as well as international laws.

"(Customs) will take action under their law but we will also take action if they hand over the case to us after they have completed their investigations," he added.

On Friday, Sabah Customs and Excise Department director Datuk Janathan Kandok said they had arrested a 43-year-old local and found the pangolin scales stored in 266 gunny bags in two containers waiting to be shipped to China.

The suspect was the owner of the company shipping the goods.

Janathan said they were uncertain if the scales were from local pangolins but did not rule out that they could have come from neighbouring countries, brought into Sabah illegally.

He said that they estimated that the scales came from some 16,000 pangolins, which are classified as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

Pangolin scales are used for medicinal purposes and as food, and there is high demand for their unproven aphrodisiac value.

They are valued at US$3,000 (about RM13,000) per kg in the black market.

Sabah Customs is probing the case under Section 135 (1) (a) of the Customs Act 1967 for exporting banned goods.

The seizure was the biggest haul involving the protected animal so far in Sabah, after the seizure of 1,068 frozen pangolins weighing some five tonnes in Sandakan on Dec 7, 2011.


Man detained after 8,000kg of pangolin scales found
The Star 12 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Some 8,000kg of pangolin scales worth RM100mil in the illicit trade business were seized by Customs at the port here.

Sabah Customs and Excise Department director Datuk Jana­than Kandok said they found the scales in a container owned by a Sabah private company that was meant for export on July 29.

He said a 43-year-old man, who is the owner of the company, has been detained.

“Our initial investigation showed that it was on its way to China,” he said.

Janathan said they were uncertain if the scales were from local pangolins and did not rule out the possibility that they were smuggled from neighbouring countries.

He said they estimated that the scales came from some 16,000 pangolins, which are listed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature.

The scales were in 266 gunny sacks placed inside two containers, he told a press conference at Wisma Kastam Sabah here yesterday.

Pangolin scales are in high demand as an aphrodisiac, although this attribute is yet unproven.

He said the suspect had hidden the scales under normal marine shells to trick Customs officials.

However, on closer examination, they discovered the pangolin scales beneath the sacks.

Janathan said that investigations were being carried out under Section 135(1)(a) of the Customs Act 1967 for exporting banned goods.

Those found guilty face a fine of not less than 10 times the value of the goods or a jail term not exceeding three years or both.

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