CHANGSHA - Seven people are in police custody in Central China's Hunan province for allegedly selling thousands of pangolins, a state-protected endangered mammal.
In March, forest police in Xiangtan City caught two men, Shi and his son, attempting to sell two of the animals to a local restaurant, Dai Hongwen, deputy chief of the local forest police, told Xinhua on Tuesday.
The police confiscated two pangolins, weighing 4.5 kg and 6.5 kg respectively, at the scene. The animals can sell for 1,800 yuan (about $290 dollars) per kg, according to Dai.
Based on statements from Shi and his son, the gang that the pair headed had been trading wild animals since 2001. The pangolins were mainly caught in Guangdong, Guangxi and Yunnan regions.
Pangolin meat is popular in parts of China and their scales are believed to have medicinal qualities. However, the law states that those who catch, kill, buy or sell state-protected animals could face more than 10 years in jail and fines.
Shi, his son and five other suspects have been in police custody since late April.