2 From Congo Arrested Outside Seattle in Alleged Elephant Ivory, Rhino Horn Trade

The men allegedly sent elephant tusks and rhinoceros horn to the U.S. disguised as wood, and had plans for a larger deal

Forensic officers inspect ivory seized at the customs department in the Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, Thailand, Friday, Sept. 22, 2017. Thai authorities have seized a full elephant tusk and 28 tusk fragments originating from Africa worth over 4 million baht ($120,000). The ivory was hidden in a shipment from Republic of Congo and transited through Addis Ababa, Ethiopia to Thailand.
AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit

Two men from the Democratic Republic of Congo were arrested outside of Seattle last week on charges that they shipped ivory and white rhinoceros horn to the United States and had plans to send more, federal prosecutors said.

There is an almost total ban on the African elephant ivory trade in the United States. It is also governed by international treaty.

Herdade Lokua, 23, and Jospin Mujangi, 31, both of Kinshasa, were arrested Wednesday outside Seattle. They are charged with 11 counts that include smuggling, money laundering, and Lacey Act violations for allegedly lying about shipments containing illegal wildlife, the Justice Department said Monday.

They allegedly had the elephant ivory and rhino horn cut into smaller pieces and painted black, and then mixed with a black wood to hide it.

Lokua and Mujangi have pleaded not guilty, and they were ordered held, according to federal court records. Their attorneys did not immediately respond to a request for comment late Monday.

Read the full story on here. 

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service says it can not locate a trace of 23 species that were previously endangered, including the ivory-billed woodpecker and other Pacific birds and bats, 8 species of river mussels, and some plants.
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