Vice Minister of the General Administration of Customs of China (GAC) Hu Wei (2nd L) speaks at a press conference in Beijing, capital of China, April 15, 2019. Chinese customs seized 7.48 tonnes of smuggled ivory during an operation on March 30, the GAC said in a press release Monday. It is the largest seizure of smuggled elephant tusks by Chinese customs in recent years. (Xinhua/Pan Xu)
BEIJING, April 15 (Xinhua) -- Chinese customs seized 7.48 tonnes of smuggled ivory during an operation on March 30, the General Administration of Customs (GAC) said in a press release Monday.
It is the largest seizure of smuggled elephant tusks by Chinese customs in recent years, the GAC said. An international ivory smuggling criminal gang was destroyed during the operation.
So far this year, Chinese customs has seized 8.48 tonnes of ivory and ivory products and 500.5 tonnes of endangered species in 182 smuggling cases involving 171 suspects, according to the press release.
Meanwhile, police have strengthened efforts to crack down on the smuggling of endangered species. More than 200 items of smuggled ivory products and over 830 kilograms of other endangered species have been seized through border controls since 2018, said the Ministry of Public Security .
Police have also intensified the hunt for fugitive smugglers overseas. So far this year, two fugitives involved in an high-profile ivory smuggling case, were arrested and repatriated from Nigeria and another in a separate case from Vietnam after fleeing overseas for eight years.
In the past three years, police have assisted customs authorities in capturing 18 fugitives suspected of smuggling elephant tusks and other endangered species, the ministry said.
China has imposed a complete ban on ivory trade for commercial purposes starting Jan. 1, 2018, as part of its commitment to protecting wild animals.