Head of ivory, rhino horn smuggling scheme pleads guilty
BOSTON (AP) — An Australian man who masterminded a scheme to smuggle items made of rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral to China has pleaded guilty in a U.S. court.
Federal prosecutors say Guan Zong Chen and two co-defendants smuggled $700,000 worth of carvings despite the fact that their export was barred under a 1976 international treaty meant to protect endangered species.
Chen pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court in Boston on Tuesday to charges including conspiracy to export protected wildlife and exporting protected wildlife without required permits. He faces 15 years in prison at sentencing.
Chen owned an antiques business in China and was barred from traveling to the U.S. because of a previous ivory trafficking conviction. He enlisted the help of a Chinese national and a Massachusetts woman in the scheme.