Laos seizes illegal rhino horns worth nearly $240,000 from Singapore to Vientiane flight

The Wattay International Airport Customs Office held a press conference yesterday after seizing the rhino horns on Monday.
The Wattay International Airport Customs Office held a press conference yesterday after seizing the rhino horns on Monday.PHOTO: VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK

VIENTIANE (VIENTIANE TIMES/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Customs officials at the main airport in the Laotian capital of Vientiane have confiscated five pieces of illegal horns worth about US$176,000 (S$239,730) from the endangered African rhino after they were transported on a SilkAir flight from Singapore to Laos.

The illegal horns had been flown in on SilkAir flight MI788 which left from Singapore on Monday, the Wattay International Airport Customs Office said at a press conference on Tuesday, according to the Vientiane Times.

Two Chinese men have been arrested on suspicion of illegally importing the rhino horns after their flight arrived at about 3.30pm local time on Monday (4.30pm Singapore).

The chief of the airport's customs office, Bouasone Sayasouk, said an investigation was underway after it received a tip-off about the plot to import the prohibited items illegally.

The men had been scheduled to transit to a domestic flight to Luang Prabang province after arriving.

They were intercepted after customs officials inspected a bag that was checked onto the plane under their names.

While officially inspecting the bag, they discovered five pieces of rhino horns with a combined weight of some 11.1kg.

Bouasone said the price of illegal rhino horns was about US$16,000 per kg.

The seizure could be valued at some US$176,000 or over 1 billion kip.

Bouasone said the case was the second involving rhino horns this year after the authorities seized another shipment of the same substance last month.