China destroys elephant ivory and ornaments seized over the years. (Photo by Wang Jing for China Daily)
Customs authorities of several Chinese cities have busted a smuggling gang, arresting three suspects and seizing 81 pieces of ivory with a total weight of around 350 kg.
The joint operation was launched by customs of cities including Nanning, Guangzhou and Fuzhou, according to customs of Nanning, capital of South China's Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region.
Nanning customs received information in early May that a criminal gang had been smuggling ivory from Vietnam to China. The anti-smuggling police intercepted the vehicle in Shangsi county in the city of Fangchenggang on May 22.
Investigation showed that the smuggling ring purchased large quantities of endangered species and products such as ivory and rhinoceros horns from Vietnam, and handed them over to another criminal gang for cross-border transportation before they were transferred to Fujian province.
Further investigation is underway.
Wang Zhi, chief of Nanning customs, said the customs would continue monitoring endangered species smuggling, maintain a "zero-tolerance" attitude toward the illegal activities and safeguard ecological security.
Nanning customs has investigated 62 ivory smuggling cases since the beginning of the year, seizing around 900 kg of ivory and ivory products.
The Chinese government suspended imports of ivory and all ivory products in 2015 and ended commercial processing and sales of ivory at the end of 2017.