Nigerian authorities arrest 8 suspects from major network trafficking pangolin scales and ivory

The Nigeria Customs Service (NCS) announced today that they have arrested eight suspects connected with the trafficking of pangolin scales and ivory from Nigeria.  

Acting on information provided by the Wildlife Justice Commission, three Vietnamese suspects were arrested on 12 May 2022 in connection with the trafficking of 7.1 tonnes of pangolin scales (equivalent to at least 17.500 pangolins) and 850 kgs of ivory (equivalent to 87 elephants) seized by the NCS in July 2021.    

These three Vietnamese nationals are high-ranking members of a major organised crime group involved in the trafficking of ivory and pangolin scales from Nigeria and rhino horn and lion bones from Mozambique and South Africa to Vietnam. The three suspects were in Nigeria actively sourcing pangolin scales when they were arrested by NCS officers.  

“These arrests are very significant. It is the first time that Vietnamese nationals are arrested in Nigeria in relation to wildlife crime and it demonstrates the commitment of the NCS to fight wildlife trafficking. We wish to congratulate the NCS and we vow to continue to support their investigations to further disrupt the trafficking of wildlife”.

Steve Carmody, Director of Programs at the Wildlife Justice Commission   

In other arrests on the same day, two other suspects, a Vietnamese and a Nigerian national, were apprehended for trafficking 400 Kg of pangolin scales which were seized by NCS officers. These purchases enabled the identification of the supplier of the scales, other members of his network including two additional suspects that were arrested on 12 May.   

Additional evidence collected in the investigation will enable further arrests and prosecutions across the Africa-Asia supply chain.    

Since July 2021, the ongoing partnership between the NCS and the Wildlife Justice Commission has resulted in the arrest of 19 suspects and seizure of over 9 tonnes of pangolin scales and over 1 ton of ivory.