Vietnamese Man Arrested for Smuggling Ivory, Tiger Claws Haul

A Vietnamese national was charged with smuggling animal parts Tuesday after he was caught with 43 kg of ivory at Siem Reap International Airport on Sunday night, officials said.

Kong Sokphallakun, head of the airport’s customs office, said his officials arrested Vu Le Thuy, 43, at around 11:15 p.m. after discovering the haul—which also included elephant and tiger parts. He said the man was pulled aside because of his suspicious route, which started in Angola and went on to Ethiopia and South Korea before reaching Cambodia.

“When the man arrived at the airport, our officers were suspicious and called him for questioning and then checked his suitcases and found some animal parts,” he said.

Mr. Sokphallakun said his officials also thought it was strange that he had chosen to stop off in Cambodia, alone, before heading home to Vietnam.

“We suspected him because he was traveling on a long route but he did not fly directly to his final destination,” he said. “We suspected him because of our experience.”

Fifteen elephant tusks weighing 43 kg, 11 pieces of dried elephant tails weighing 1.9 kg and 0.2 kg of tiger claws and fangs were discovered, he said.

Upon his arrest, the suspect admitted to buying the animal parts in Angola to sell in Vietnam, the customs official said.

“We filed the case and sent the suspect and the evidence to the court to continue the legal procedures this morning,” he said.

Siem Reap Provincial Court deputy prosecutor Ream Chanmony said he finished questioning the suspect Tuesday and charged him under Article 97 of the Forestry Law.

“He was charged with smuggling animal parts and if found guilty could face between five to 10 years in prison,” he said. “Now, he has been sent to prison for pretrial detention.”

In May last year, customs officials in Sihanoukville seized more than 3 tons of ivory that had arrived from Kenya, the biggest haul ever in Cambodia.

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