Police honored for capturing wildlife traffickers
Forestry police in Zhuji, East China's Zhejiang province, were recently recognized with first class merit awards for capturing a suspect who was selling lion meat and was involved in a large wildlife trafficking network. Their work was part of the effort that nabbed 88 suspects nationwide.
On July 17, 2015, local police received a tip-off and seized a car in the Zhuji section of the provincial highway that was loaded with frozen and skinned animal body parts in its trunk.
Lion meat, which was to be sold to a client from Zhuji to make medicinal liquor, was found. The 41-year-old driver from Pan'an, Zhejiang, surnamed Chen, confessed.
Police learned Chen hid rare wild animals in his three-story game store, including two giant salamanders in the bathroom and a leopard in a cage on the first floor, as well as two monitor lizards in the basement he dug.
A team of six local forestry police officers was organized to investigate the case.
Chen was the middleman of a wildlife trafficking network that bought wild animals from the suppliers — mainly from Guangdong, Hunan, Jiangxi, Fujian and Zhejiang provinces, as well as Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, and sold them to clients, mainly in Zhejiang and Jiangxi provinces, and Shanghai.
By May 2016, Zhuji police had detained 46 suspects and seized about 5,500 first- or second-class state key protected wild animals. Over 100 million yuan ($15.8 million) involved.
Some 15 of the convicted were sentenced over 10 years in prison. Chen, the principal criminal, got 12 years and 9 months for acquiring, transporting, and selling protected animals and their products.
Six people were sentenced to 5-10-years imprisonment, and the others received less than five years in prison, criminal detention or public surveillance.