Cambodian wildlife officials, black market dealers, and executives at a monkey breeding company were charged by U.S. federal prosecutors last week with running an illicit monkey trading scheme that smuggled thousands of endangered wild macaques from Southeast Asia to the U.S. to be used in lab research.
Eight were charged in Wednesday’s indictment, including two top officials of the Cambodian Forestry Administration within the Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries. The remaining six co-conspirators were affiliated with Vanny Resource Holdings Ltd., a primate supplier firm with operations in Hong Kong and Cambodia.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to 5 years in prison for conspiracy, and up to 20 years for smuggling. They can also be fined up to $250,000 – or twice the financial gain prosecutors say they made during the scheme.