By Kanishka Singh
(Reuters) – Two folks from the Democratic Republic of Congo have been arrested in the USA and indicted by a federal grand jury for allegedly trafficking elephant ivory and white rhinoceros horn from DRC to Seattle, the Justice Division mentioned on Monday.
“Herdade Lokua, 23, and Jospin Mujangi, 31, of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, have been arrested on Nov. 3 exterior of Seattle,” the division mentioned in a press release.
On Nov. 4, a federal grand jury indicted them for conspiracy, cash laundering, smuggling and authorized violations for the trafficking, in line with the assertion.
The 11-count indictment alleges that Lokua and Mujangi labored with a intermediary to smuggle 4 packages into the USA.
In August and September 2020, the defendants allegedly despatched three shipments containing a complete of about 49 kilos of ivory by air freight to Seattle, the DOJ mentioned.
In Might, they allegedly despatched one other package deal with about 5 kilos of rhinoceros horn. A purchaser paid the defendants $14,500 for the ivory and $18,000 for the horn, in line with the division.
In accordance with the indictment, Lokua and Mujangi additionally offered 55 kilos of pangolin scales to a U.S. purchaser however finally didn’t ship them.
The World Wildlife Group says the meat of the pangolin, typically often called the “scaly anteater,” is taken into account a delicacy and their scales are utilized in conventional Chinese language medication, making them among the many most-trafficked mammal on the earth.
The 2 mentioned sending bigger shipments of ivory, rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales by ocean freight containers. On Nov. 2, they arrived in Washington State to barter the small print of such a deal and have been arrested in Edmonds, the DOJ mentioned.
Reuters couldn’t instantly contact the representatives of Lokua and Mujangi.
If convicted, the defendants face a most of 20 years’ imprisonment for the smuggling and cash laundering costs and 5 years for the conspiracy and Lacey Act violations, the Justice Division mentioned. The Lacey Act prohibits, amongst different issues, falsely labeling shipments containing wildlife.
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