Head of International Wildlife Smuggling Ring Pleads Guilty to Federal Charges

The head of an illegal wildlife trade ring pled guilty Tuesday in federal court to charges of conspiring with a woman to smuggle items made of ivory, rhino horn and coral to China, according to the US attorney’s office.

Guan Zong Chen, an Australian citizen who lived in China, was accused of smuggling $700,000 worth of items made from endangered wildlife and species protected by an international treaty to prevent their illegal sale, prosecutors said.

Chen pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to export protected wildlife contrary to law from the U.S. and knowingly making and submitting false wildlife documents that were exported; one count of false wildlife records; and six counts of smuggling – exporting protected wildlife without declaration and required permits, the US Attorney’s office said in a press release.

Chen was arrested in China in 2009 for trafficking in ivory carvings purchased in the US. Unable to travel to the US, he solicited help from Jin Jie Yang, a Chinese national, and Carla Marsh of Concord, who ran a shipping business, prosecutors said.

Yang pleaded guilty in 2014 to charges that purchased wildlife items at US auction houses on behalf of Chen. The items were shipped to China through Marsh’s business, prosecutors said.

Yang was sentenced to time served. Marsh pleaded guilty in May 2015 for her role in the operation and sentenced to one year probation in April 2016, according to the press release.

Chen was arrested last year in Australia and extradited to the United States for orchestrating the purchasing and smuggling the wildlife items.

On the conspiracy charge, Chen faces up to five years in prison, and a fine of up to $250,000.

 

 

Posted in General News

Tags: illegal wildlife trading

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