African Elephant Ivory Smuggling

 Fish and Wildlife Service



On March 25, 2015, Canadian Antiques Dealer Xiao Ju Guan, a/k/a “Tony Guan,” 39, was sentenced in Manhattan federal court to 30 months in prison for smuggling rhinoceros horns, elephant ivory, and coral from the United States to Canada. In addition to the prison term, Judge Swain ordered Guan to forfeit wildlife items found during a search of his Canadian antiques business.

On June 24, 2014, Ning Qiu, a resident of Frisco, Texas, and an appraiser of Asian art, pleaded guilty today in federal court to participating in an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which rhinoceros horns and objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth nearly $1 million were smuggled from the United States to China. Qiu, 43, who has worked as an Asian antique appraiser for seven years, pleaded guilty in Plano, Texas, to a one count information charging him with conspiracy to smuggle and violate the Lacey Act. Qiu was identified as part of “Operation Crash” – a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

On Dec. 9, 2013, Zhifei Li, the owner of an antique business in China, pleaded guilty to being the organizer of an illegal wildlife smuggling conspiracy in which 30 rhinoceros horns and numerous objects made from rhino horn and elephant ivory worth more than $4.5 million were smuggled from the United States to China.

United States v. Tania Siyam, (N.D. Ohio):  On Aug. 7, 2008, Tania Siyam, a Canadian citizen, was sentenced to five years’ incarceration and to pay a $100,000 fine for illegally smuggling ivory from the West African country of Cameroon into the United States.  Siyam originally operated art import and export businesses in Montréal, Canada, and Cameroon that were fronts for smuggling products from endangered and protected wildlife species, including raw elephant ivory.  The two ivory shipments to Ohio included parts from at least 21 African elephants.  

United States v. Kemo Sylla, et al., (E.D.N.Y.):  In December 2008, an indictment was unsealed charging the defendants with illegally importing ivory over a two-year period through New York’s JFK Airport disguised as African handicrafts and wooden instruments.  The six defendants pleaded guilty to Lacey Act violations and received sentences ranging from one year of probation to 14 months’ incarceration.  A number of the defendants also were ordered to pay fines to the Lacey Act Reward Fund.

Updated September 12, 2017

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