China / Society

Shaanxi police crack online animal trafficking network

By Ma Lie in Xi'an (China Daily) Updated: 2015-04-23 08:31

Forest police in Shangluo, Shaanxi province, have cracked a network that has been trafficking wild animals, reptiles and amphibians online, the biggest such operation ever reported in China, the authorities said.

The network was dealing in more than 1,000 animals, including Burmese pythons, gold pythons and nocturnal primates, with a total value of 10.85 million yuan ($1.75 million), according to Liu Gang, director of the Shangluo Forest Public Security Bureau and head of the team that has been investigating the case.

More than 140 suspects from 25 provinces, cities and autonomous regions are involved. Police have already identified and detained 56 suspects, according to Tang Hongwei, captain of the criminal police brigade of the bureau.

All of the animals were being traded within China, and police from other provinces are now helping the investigation.

Forest police received information on June 4 of last year that a man had opened a wildlife shop to display the animals in Shangnan, a county under the administration of Shangluo, and went to check.

"We found 13 pythons, 21 lizards, seven tortoises and one macaw in the shop, all of which were nationally protected wild animals, and we detained the shop owner, surnamed Liu," Tang said.

The shop owner told police that he bought the animals through a network of three men in Xi'an, and from a man in Ningde, Fujian province.

Police caught the four suspects in June and July with a number of wild animals in their houses. Investigators then received more information about the illegal purchase, transportation and sale of rare and endangered wild animals through the online network.

Expert appraisal confirmed that a large number of rare and endangered animals were involved, including 589 Burmese and gold pythons, three lorises, 244 reticulated pythons, green tree pythons and red tail boas, as well as five macaques, one red panda, 79 lizards, 114 iguanas, 27 tortoises and 17 king lizards.

"Most suspects had not met each other and had operated the illegal business through AliPay and express delivery," Tang said.

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