New York antiques dealer pleads guilty to conspiracy to smuggle artifacts made from rhinoceros horns and ivory.
Qiang Wang, also known as Jeffrey Wang, a New York antiques dealer, pleaded guilty on August 7th, in federal court in New York City to conspiracy to smuggle Asian artifacts made from rhinoceros horns and ivory and violate wildlife trafficking laws.
Wang was arrested by federal agents in February 2013 as part of “Operation Crash,” a nation-wide crackdown in the illegal trafficking in rhinoceros horns, for his role in smuggling libation cups carved from rhinoceros horns from New York to Hong Kong and China.
“Wang and others conspired in an illegal trade that is threatening the future of these species,” said Acting U.S. Assistant Attorney General Robert G. Dreher. “This prosecution and continuing investigation should send a clear message to buyers and sellers that we will vigorously investigate and prosecute those who are involved in this devastating trade.”
According to the information, plea agreement, and statements made during court proceedings, between approximately January 2011 and February 2013, Wang conspired with at least two others to smuggle objects containing rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory out of the United States knowing that it was illegal to export such items without required permits. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Oct. 25, 2013.
All species of rhinoceros are protected under United States and international law. Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 170 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife, and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets.
Operation Crash is a continuing investigation being conducted by the Department of the Interior’s Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS), in coordination with other federal and local law enforcement agencies including U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations. A “crash” is the term for a herd of rhinoceros.
“Poaching and profiteering are undermining decades of work by conservationists to stabilize and rebuild rhino and elephant populations,” said U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe. “As this latest guilty plea demonstrates, we continue working with our partners in the United States and overseas to stop the slaughter and crack down on the illegal trafficking that fuels it.”