Man gets 15 months’ jail for smuggling rhino horns, horn shavings

Today Online 26 Feb 18;

SINGAPORE — A smuggler who was found with eight pieces of cut rhino horns and a bag of rhino horn shavings at Changi Airport was sentenced to 15 months’ jail on Monday (Feb 26).

Nguyen Vinh Hai, 29, was flying from Dubai to Laos on Aug 31, 2017, when he was caught during his transit in Singapore.

The arrest was made after a joint effort by the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA), Singapore Customs, and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority “to investigate an attempt to smuggle illegal wildlife products through Singapore”, the agencies said in a joint statement on Monday.

DNA analysis conducted on the seized horns and shavings confirmed that they were derived from the rhinoceros, a critically endangered animal protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (CITES).

Singapore is a signatory of CITES. If convicted, offenders face a fine of up to S$500,000 and/or up to two years’ jail.

Nguyen’s sentence will be backdated to Sept 6, 2017.

“The Singapore Government adopts a zero-tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and derivatives,” the statement read.

Noting that tackling illegal wildlife trade requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders, including the public, AVA noted that demand fuels the wildlife trade.

“The public can help reduce demand by not buying wildlife parts and products,” the authority said.

“AVA will take stern enforcement actions against any illegal wildlife smugglers.”

Members of the public can alert AVA of any suspected cases of illegal wildlife trade, and provide information through the agency’s online feedback form or at 6805 2992.

All information shared with AVA will be kept strictly confidential.