HONG KONG: Four containers containing wood logs of a dangerous species of wood named Honduras rosewood were caught by Kwai Chung Customhouse Cargo Examination Compound. The wood logs weighed 92, 000 kilograms and were worth $3 million. The case said to be the largest wood logs smuggling case in the past decade.
Customs officers, through risk assessment, identified a suspicious shipment declared to contain “rubber waste”, arriving in Hong Kong from Guatemala via Mexico, for inspection. Upon examination of the shipment, Customs officers found a total of about 92 000 kilogram’s of wood logs of the endangered species in four 40-foot containers.
The wood logs were not declared on the manifest and were seized by Customs officers for further investigation. Upon follow-up investigation, a 52-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman were arrested on December 10. They were released on bail pending further investigation.
The Divisional Commander (Containerized Cargo Examination), Mr Wong Wai-hung, said today (December 17) that the department will continue to closely co-operate with the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department to combat cross-boundary smuggling of endangered species.
Customs administrations around the world have heightened their awareness in combating illegal trade in wildlife with a special focus on animals and plants controlled by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, such as elephants, rhinoceroses and rosewood. Hong Kong Customs has participated in the World Customs Organization operation since 2012 and is committed to taking sustained vigorous enforcement action to clamp down on the trafficking of endangered wildlife, Mr Wong added.
Under the Import and Export Ordinance, any person found guilty of importing UN manifested cargoes is liable to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.
Under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, any person found guilty of illegally importing a specimen of a scheduled species on Appendix III without a license is liable to a maximum fine of $50,000 and imprisonment for six months.