Canadian Dealer Pleads Guilty to Rhino Horns Smuggling Attempt
A Canadian antiques dealer pleaded guilty to charges of attempting to smuggle two black rhino horns from New York to British Columbia, the Toronto Sun reports.
“I knew I was violating the law,” admitted Xiao Ju Guan (a.k.a. Tony Guan), during a hearing at a federal court in New York earlier this week.
Guan was arrested in March 2014, after flying to New York to buy two black rhinoceros horns for $45,000 from undercover Fish and Wildlife special agents, and then arranging to ship them to Point Roberts, Washington, where, according to an unnamed accomplice, they would be taken to Canada. Guan had put the horns in a box labeled as “handicrafts” and indicated that the goods’ worth was just $200.
Guan intended to sell the horns in the antique shops in Richmond, British Columbia, that he owns.
He faces 30 to 46 months in prison under stipulated sentencing guidelines included in his plea agreement.
According to the Toronto Sun, prosecutors had previously accused Guan of participating in a trafficking ring to smuggle rhino horns, elephant ivory, and coral sculptures from various US auction houses to Canada. Guan, however, only pleaded guilty to the charge related to the sting operation in March.
Four rhinoceros species are protected under the US Endangered Species Act. This law makes it illegal to import or export rhino and rhino parts and products, as well as interstate commerce. Rhinos are also protected internationally under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
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