Lusaka Agreement Task Force (LATF) in collaboration with INTERPOL Regional Bureau, Nairobi and authorities in Tanzania investigated a case in which four Chinese nationals were arrested and 11 rhino horns seized from them. The incident occurred on 16th November 2015 at Kasumulu – (Malawi/Tanzania) border point. The four Chinese were entering Tanzania with smuggled rhino horns from Malawi. The investigations were conducted from 18th to 24th November 2015 in Dar es Salaam, Mbeya, Kasumulu and Kyela. The investigation team collected evidence and revealed modus operandi involving a large criminal network of Chinese nationals operating in the region linked to the trafficking of elephant ivory and rhino horns whose members include the arrested four Chinese.
The evidence and information collected greatly assisted the prosecution of the four Chinese men identified as Song Lei, Xiao Shaodan, Chen Jianlian, and Hu Liang, who were jointly and together charged for smuggling 11 rhino horns into Tanzania from neighboring Malawi. The charges also related to economic sabotage, conspiracy and unlawful possession of government trophies.
The Mbeya resident Magistrate’s Court on 17th December found the accused guilty and handed 20 years in jail each and also ordered to pay more than 10 Billion Tanzania Shillings (approximately US$5.8 million) apart from the jail sentence. The court also ordered confistification of a Toyota pick-up truck and the 11 rhino horns as well as the electronic devices that were used by the Chinese smugglers and put under the custody of the Director of Wildlife for proper disposal.
This operation is yet another high profile investigation that was successfully coordinated by LATF and enjoyed excellent collaboration from, INTERPOL RB-Nairobi, Tanzania Wildlife Division and other law enforcement agencies in Tanzania. The Director of the Lusaka Agreement Task Force Mr. Bonaventure EBAYI congratulates the Director of Public Prosecutions in Tanzania as well as others who took an active part in according this case the seriousness it deserved. The Director further calls for sustained pressure and support to national, regional and international institutions in the fight against such high profile transnational wildlife crime cases.