The three-ton haul of illegal elephant ivory seized by port officials on May 9 originated in Kenya and was then shipped through Malaysia to Cambodia in two freight containers, the chief of Sihanoukville Autonomous Port’s customs and excise department said Thursday.
The General Department of Customs held a press conference Thursday to provide the first update since May 12 on the investigation into Cambodia’s biggest ever seizure of illegal ivory. But customs officials did not mention whether the investigation had identified any person or persons responsible for the smuggled ivory, and declined to respond to questions on the identity of the smugglers.
“After investigating this case we have discovered that the 3,008 kg of ivory was transported from Kenya in Africa,” Kin Ly, the head of the Sihanoukville port’s customs and excise department, told reporters.
He explained that port authorities were alerted about the containers by the regional intelligence liaison office of the Customs Enforcement Network, a global intelligence service monitoring shipping cargo.
The containers were supposed to be carrying beans from Malaysia, but a scan after their arrival at Sihanoukville revealed a cargo of more than 500 elephant tusks.
Most of the elephant tusks smuggled through Southeast Asia are bound for Vietnam and China, which have lucrative black markets for ivory, and Bun Chiv, deputy chief of the port’s customs office, said Thursday that the final destination of the Kenyan ivory was almost certainly not Cambodia.
“Cambodia was not the destination country for this ivory,” he said.
Neither he nor Mr. Ly would answer questions regarding the shipping company that consigned the containers, Olair Worldwide Logistics, which has two office listings in Phnom Penh and one in Sihanoukville.
The company is registered with the Ministry of Commerce as having three shareholders: Seang Sokhorn, Eang Chantha and Huy Soly.
Neither the company nor the shareholders could be reached Thursday.