SINGAPORE - A 29-year-old Vietnamese man is assisting the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) with investigations, after eight cut pieces of illegal rhino horns were found in his luggage while he was on transit in Changi Airport on Thursday (Aug 31).
AVA worked with the Singapore Customs and the Immigration & Checkpoints Authority to investigate a tip-off about an attempt to smuggle illegal wildlife products through the country, according to a joint statement from the AVA and Singapore Customs on Friday (Sept 1).
The Vietnamese passenger who was on transit from Dubai to Laos was stopped. Upon inspection, the eight pieces of cut rhino horns were found in his luggage.
It is an offence in Singapore to illegally deal in illegal wildlife species protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna or Flora (Cites).
Offenders can be fined up to $500,000, jailed for two years, or both, and have to forfeit the contraband items.
"The Singapore government adopts a zero tolerance stance on the use of Singapore as a conduit to smuggle endangered species and their parts and derivatives. AVA will take stern enforcement actions against any illegal wildlife smugglers," the joint statement said.
A man was jailed for 15 months in 2014, for smuggling eight pieces of rhino horns while in transit through Singapore.
"While AVA continues to work with border control and partner enforcement agencies to maintain vigilance, tackling illegal wildlife trade requires concerted efforts of all stakeholders, including the public."
Explaining that demand drives poaching of endangered animals, the agencies said the public can help by not buying wildlife parts and products.
The public can also alert AVA of any suspected cases, by providing information via its online feedback form or by calling 6805-2992.
All information will be kept strictly confidential.