Rhino horns pierce a wall between crime and affluence in Vietnam

A suspicious package listed as textiles arrived at Hanoi’s Noi Bai International Airport in July 2019. For fabric, the parcel was heavy, weighing in at 126.5 kilograms (278.8 pounds). Customs officials flagged the goods. On inspection, police found 55 rhino horns encased in plaster.

An investigation led police to Do Minh Toan, who was responsible for providing the electronic signature for the contraband. In early December last month, Toan was sentenced by a Hanoi court to 14 years imprisonment for his involvement in trafficking the horns – the toughest punishment to date for a wildlife crime in Vietnam.

Vietnam is the second-largest consumer of rhino horn worldwide, has a major domestic market for wild animal products and is a hub of the international wildlife trade.

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