U.S. authorities arrested a top Cambodian wildlife official yesterday on his way to a global wildlife trade summit in Panama. He was detained in New York at John F. Kennedy International Airport.
Masphal Kry, 46, is alleged to be part of an international primate smuggling ring that has sold thousands of wild long-tailed macaques, an endangered animal, to research facilities in the United States, representing them as captive bred. Allegations against Kry include accepting bribes and personally delivering wild-caught monkeys to a Cambodian facility that passed the animals off as bred in captivity.
Kry is a deputy director at the Cambodian Forestry Administration, within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. Omaliss Keo, 58, the director general of the forestry administration was also indicted, as were six others affiliated with Vanny Resource Holdings—an animal-breeding company with operations in Hong Kong and Cambodia that supplies the United States with research animals. The eight individuals have been charged with smuggling and conspiracy to violate the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act, the U.S.’s oldest wildlife protection law.