The US Fish & Wildlife Service has brought a series of prosecutions as part of Operation Crash, a nationwide crackdown on cross-border trafficking in rhinoceros horn works of art.
While it is legal to sell 'worked' rhino
horn within the US, export permits will now only be granted in
Qiang 'Jeffrey' Wang, 34, a New York
antiques dealer, pleaded guilty to violating wildlife trafficking
laws in a Manhattan federal court on August 7. According to court
records, between approximately January 2011 and February 2013, when
he was arrested, Wang conspired with at least two Chinese nationals
to smuggle rhinoceros horn libation cups and elephant ivory
carvings out of the US without the necessary USFWS approval and
valid CITES export permits.
Wang (who spent $1,159,500 on three libation
cups at an auction in Manhattan in September 2011) used the US
Postal Service and other mail services to send packages from New
York to Hong Kong and China, making false customs declarations to
conceal their true contents. He is due to be sentenced on October
Two other Chinese nationals face similar
charges following a sting operation conducted by the USFWS at the
Original Miami Beach Antiques Show - also in February.
Zhefei Li purchased rhino horn from an undercover agent, conceding
he paid bribes to Chinese customs to move them into the country,
while his business associate Shusen Wei, at the fair to buy rhino
horn, ivory and jade works of art, was arrested at JFK airport en
route to China having previously purchased two libation cups from
Li for $200,000 and $190,000.
In February 2013, Manhattan antiques dealer David Hausman was
given a six-month jail term followed by one year of supervised
release for his role in trafficking.