Harbin customs officials smash an illegal wildlife smuggling ring

Source:Global Times-Agencies Published: 2013-8-21 0:38:01

A total of 169 wild bear paws smuggled from Russia were seized by customs officials in Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, the Harbin customs office said on Tuesday.

Five suspects from a wildlife smuggling ring, which was busted on July 12, have been arrested, the customs anti-smuggling office said.

The crackdown followed a tip-off received by the Jiamusi customs office in the province in June, saying that a great amount of wild bear paws were being secretly transported into China from Tongjiang, a border town with Russia.

Ninety bear paws were then intercepted at a toll station along the expressway from Tongjiang to Harbin. The police then tracked down and seized 79 more bear paws, 21 deer penises and 36 marten furs from other suspects.

Among those paws, 138 are from brown bears and the remainder belonged to black bears.

The case came right after the country's largest bear paw smuggling attempt was smashed by the Manzhouli customs office in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region in May. A total of 213 bear paws, weighing from 200 grams to 1 kilogram each, with a black market value of 2.8 million yuan ($457,240), were smuggled from Russia.

Thirteen out of 19 customs offices under the Harbin customs umbrella are along the border with Russia, from which smuggled wild animal parts and organs have been actively traded in China's underground market.

A kilogram of bear paw in Russia is priced at 2,000 rubles ($63), while in China the price could reach more than 10 times that.

The case is under further investigation, local police said on Tuesday.

China and Russia have joint efforts in combating bear paw smuggling. Border patrol officers in Russia once stopped a truck carrying more than 400 paws on its way to China.

Global Times - Agencies

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