Maputo — A Vietnamese citizen has been arrested for smuggling rhino horns out of Mozambique – however, the arrest took place, not in Maputo, but in Nairobi.
According to reports in the Kenyan press, the Vietnamese, named as 47 year old Vuanh Tuan, was arrested on 15 May.
He was at Nairobi’s Jomo Kenyatta International Airport in transit from Maputo to Hanoi.
The head of the criminal investigation police at the airport, Judy Jebet, said the man was “looking suspicious” when he arrived at Nairobi on board a scheduled Kenya Airways flight from Maputo.
The police decided to search his luggage and found seven pieces of rhino horn, rhino tails and lion teeth weighing a total of 12 kilograms. The Kenyan reports put the value of these illicit wildlife goods at about 123,000 US dollars.
From the Mozambican perspective, the question is: how was this illicit cargo not detected at Maputo International Airport? All luggage going into the holds of aircraft passes through scanners – while the prime purpose of such devices is to detect explosives, they can also identify other illegal items of cargo, particular ones with the distinctive shape of a rhino horn.
The inescapable conclusion is that the trafficker enjoyed the complicity of police and perhaps other staff at Maputo airport.
Since both African species of rhinoceros, the black and the white, are believed to be extinct in southern Mozambique, the horns loaded onto the Kenya Airways flight in Maputo almost certainly came from some of the rhinos slaughtered across the border, in South Africa’s Kruger National Park.
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