A wildlife trafficking case led to the indictment of a Canadian antique dealer.
Xiao Ju Guan, aka Tony Guan, 39, was indicted by a federal grand jury in Manhattan today for conspiring to smuggle wildlife items for his antique business in British Columbia, as reported by the US Department of Justice..
Guan is accused of moving more than $500,000 of rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory and coral from the US to Canada.
The dealer was arrested on March 29, 2014 after buying endangered black rhino horns from undercover special agents with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service at a Bronx storage facility. He then mailed the items, which he spent $45,000 on, to a town in Washington 10 miles from the Canadian border, and 17 miles from his antique business.
Guan labeled the box of horns as “handicrafts” worth $200, and told the agents he had people who would drive them across the border.
The arrest coincided with a search of Guan’s business by wildlife enforcement officers with Environment Canada.
“Illegal wildlife trafficking is a multibillion-dollar business that must be stopped,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Hirsch in the news release. “The Justice Department is working vigorously to uphold the laws designed to protect rhinos and elephants and other threatened species from extinction and is working alongside our international partners to bring black-market wildlife traders to justice. We are also very grateful here for the assistance from Canadian authorities.”
Environment Canada and Justice Canada are working with U.S. investigators on the case, which is part of the large scale “Operation Crash,” US Fish & Wildlife and Justice Department’s effort to crackdown on illegal trafficking in rhinoceros horns.
If convicted, Guan is looking at up to five years in prison for the conspiracy and wildlife charges and up to ten years in prison for the crime of smuggling. Guan could be fined up to $200,000 per count or up to twice the gross gain from the criminal conduct.
Do you think the punishments if convicted are fair considering Guan’s notorious wildlife trafficking?