HomeWorldTrafficker gets 18 months in prison over $2.1M in poached rhino horns
Trafficker gets 18 months in prison over $2.1M in poached rhino horns
September 19, 2023
A Malaysian wildlife trafficker known as the “Godfather” was sentenced to 18 months in prison for a scheme to hawk at least $2.1 million in poached rhinoceros horns to several buyers — including some in Manhattan, federal prosecutors said Tuesday.
Teo Boon Ching, 58, acted as the middleman in the transnational poaching plot, arranging to ship the 219 kilograms of rhino horns he received from co-conspirators in Africa, the feds alleged.
According to prosecutors, Ching met with a confidential source in Malaysia in July 2019 to negotiate the sale of the animal parts – promising a speedy delivery “as long as you have cash.”
He then sent the person, who wasn’t identified by authorities, several photographs, including one showing a large amount of horns.
A month later, the source bought 12 rhino horns from Ching, which were then shipped in a suitcase from Thailand, prosecutors said.
A forensics study by a US Fish and Wildlife Service laboratory revealed that two horn pieces came from black rhinoceroses, which are listed as “critically endangered” – and the other 10 belonged to white rhinoceroses, which are “near threatened.”
Ching was nabbed in Thailand on June 29, 2022, and was extradited to the US that October.
He pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking on May 8.
“Wildlife trafficking is a serious threat to the natural resources and the ecological heritage shared by communities across the globe, enriching poachers responsible for the senseless illegal slaughter of numerous endangered rhinoceros and furthering the market for these illicit products,” Manhattan US Attorney Damian Williams said in a statement.
“The substantial sentence shows the resolve of this Office to use every tool at our disposal to ensure the protection of endangered species.”
Rhino horns are traditionally used as Chinese medicine to treat illnesses like fever, rheumatism, gout and others – as well as being a status symbol for the rich and elite, according to advocate group Save The Rhino.
But other countries – like Vietnam – believed that rhino horns could enhance sexual performance, though that myth has largely been debunked.