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Investigation update: Removal of the criminal network identified in our Viet Nam investigation will have a significant impact on the illegal trade in rhino horn and elephant ivory globally
09 August 2016, The Hague | Press Release

The Hague, 9 August 2016: The Wildlife Justice Commission releases first details of its investigation into wildlife trafficking hub Nhi Khe in Viet Nam, following delivery of a second, supplementary Case File. We request urgent action from the Vietnamese government to remove key players identified from the global illegal trade in rhino horn, tiger, ivory and other endangered species.

Wildlife Justice Commission investigation: Illegal trade in CITES Appendix I species including elephant, rhino and tiger in / from Nhi Khe and associated locations, Viet Nam. Case File delivered to Viet Nam (January 2016) and China (February 2016), with the supplementary, second Case File delivered to Viet Nam and CITES (July 2016).

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Within this Wildlife Justice Commission investigation, over a period of a year and on multiple visits, our investigators observed directly:

  • US$42m in rhino horn, US$6.8m in ivory, US$3.6m in tiger parts for sale
  • Involving parts and products from up to 907 elephants, 573 rhinos, 225 tigers
    • Plus other endangered species including: pangolin, bear, hawksbill turtles and helmeted hornbill
  • An alarming increase in the illegal tiger trade
  • The expansion of Nhi Khe as a transnational trading hub via social media

Our investigation features extensive evidence with details on 51 wildlife traffickers.

Nhi Khe, just 20km south of Hanoi, Viet Nam, has become well-known as a hub for illegal trade in rhino horn, ivory, tiger and other endangered species. With a number of reports being published in recent years, the Wildlife Justice Commission conducted an in-depth investigation, over one year with multiple visits, into this wildlife trafficking hub and associated locations.

We do not wish to release details which would jeopardise any criminal investigation by national authorities. However, we can share these summary facts to highlight the extent of the evidence contained within the original, and supplementary, Case File and the necessity for action.

All evidence cited has been seen by our investigators directly, therefore the total trade via Nhi Khe is likely to be considerably larger than the quantities listed. Further details on the headlines below.

Since delivery of the Case File to Viet Nam, January 2016, the Wildlife Justice Commission embarked on an extensive diplomatic process, working with interested stakeholders through every avenue, to engage Vietnamese government and Vietnamese law enforcement authorities.

While we have observed that Vietnamese authorities have clamped down on the illegal open trade in Nhi Khe, our investigators found that behind closed doors the key traders are still active.

The relevant cross border wildlife and financial aspects in this case, and therefore of particular concern to Chinese national authorities, were highlighted in an accompanying Case File presented to China (February 2016). The Chinese authorities have indicated to the Wildlife Justice Commission that they are taking the case seriously and have started a preliminary investigation.

Alongside delivery to Viet Nam, both the first and supplementary Case File have also been delivered to CITES HQ in Geneva (July 2016).

Our recommendations to the Vietnamese government remain clear: to take decisive action to remove this criminal network from operation.

Olivia Swaak-Goldman, Executive Director, Wildlife Justice Commission, said:

“Our investigation into the criminal network centred around Nhi Khe has exposed the extent of the illegal wildlife trade in this well-known hub. Without a doubt, a significant percentage of the global illegal trade in rhino horn passes through this network. Dismantling it will definitely reduce the global supply of rhino horn”.

The Wildlife Justice Commission is currently engaged with Vietnamese government authorities to offer support, hand over evidence and ensure justice is activated. We look forward to announcing more details of the steps taken in September 2016.

The Wildlife Justice Commission operates globally: four further investigations are underway and a fifth is currently being reviewed.

-Ends-

 

NOTES TO EDITORS

Visual assets on this investigation available via our website including:

  • Undercover video footage.
  • Images of products from the investigation.

Wildlife Justice Commission:

  • An international not-for-profit organisation based in The Hague, NL, and operating globally to disrupt and dismantle transnational, organised wildlife crime.
  • Through leveraging the rule of law and the power of investigation, to expose criminal networks and the corruption that enables them to flourish; helping to ensure governments effectively enforce their laws.
  • Our scope encompasses illegal trade by organised transnational criminal networks in endangered wildlife species, timber and fisheries.
  • We have been able to complete our first investigations with the financial support of the Dutch Postcode Lottery, the Adessium Foundation, the Dutch Government, the Oak Foundation, the Nando and Elsa Peretti Foundation, Peace Parks Foundation, the WWF – Netherlands and the Municipality of The Hague.

Case File:

  • A detailed, and actionable, file prepared by the investigative team.
  • Following best international law enforcement practice, each Case File includes: a detailed description of the criminal networks involved, detailed subject case files, evidence of crimes committed, expert witness statements, prices and quantities of wildlife products trafficked / for sale / purchased, and specific actionable recommendations.
  • With the Case File, national law enforcement authorities are supported in their efforts to take action against wildlife crime perpetrators.