International trafficking in ivory and rhino horns tried in Rennes

The trial of an international network of rhino horns and ivory trafficking opened on Monday in Rennes.

Nine defendants, aged 29 to 58, were to appear at the Rennes Criminal Court, but only three of them finally made it to the hearing. Two others are on the run, and the other defendants have been represented by their lawyers.

The case for which these defendants are being tried dates back to the night of September 10 to 11, 2015. During a check near Dangé-Saint-Romain, in Vienne, customs officers got hold of four elephant tusks. ‘Africa of 42.6 kg, and over 32,800 euros in cash in the trunk of a car. The people in the vehicle then claim to be second-hand dealers. However, the investigation determined that they were members of the “Rathkeale Rovers”, a group of itinerant delinquents based in Ireland.

Thanks to these arrests, the French police will discover two networks of international trafficking in ivory and rhino horn towards Vietnam and China, which pass through France, in connection with this delinquent group. The police notably discovered horn processing workshops on French territory. The tusks and horns are thus reduced to chips or balls to be transported and then sold more easily in China.

The popular rhino horn in Asia

In Asia, rhinoceros horn is renowned for its therapeutic virtues and can be bought at a high price. Reduced to powder, it is used in particular in the traditional medicine of certain countries of the continent, in particular Vietnam, to treat various ailments, ranging from headaches to cancer. Demand is still growing, despite the banning of the horn trade in many countries, because it is responsible for poaching rhinos, now in danger of extinction.

“At the material time, the retail value of a kilo of ivory on the Asian market was around $ 5,000 per kilo (4,200 euros) and rhino horn was retailed for 1000 dollars per gram (840 euros),” said the Robin des Bois association, which works for the defense of the environment, and brought a civil action during the trial.

The defendants face “a 10-year prison sentence as well as a heavy fine”, specified the Rennes public prosecutor, Philippe Astruc, in a press release.

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