Head of Global Crime Ring Facing New York Trial for Trafficking Rhino Horns

by Joe Rutland
(Photo Courtesy Getty Images)

A man from Malaysia is accused of leading a global crime syndicate that trafficked rhino horns. The man is Teo Boon Ching, 57. He has been charged with conspiring to traffic more than 160 pounds of endangered rhino horns with a value of $725,000. This is a violation of U.S. laws and numerous international treaties. Ching reportedly will appear before a judge on Oct. 7. The man was extradited to the United States to face trafficking charges. This is according to a news release that comes from the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York.

According to information, Ching’s alleged smuggling organization operated across multiple continents. He reportedly “enrich[ed] poachers responsible for the senseless illegal slaughter of numerous endangered rhinoceros, and further[ed] the market for these illicit products,” U.S. Attorney Damian Williams said in the release. Ching was reportedly a middleman.

Dealer Of Rhino Horns In Big Trouble

He worked with poachers in Africa along with buyers in Asia. Ching would charge a “per-kilogram fee” for the transport services, the release indicates. Ching transported black rhino horns and these animals are an endangered species. Reportedly, there are only a few thousand of them still alive along with white rhinos. They are classified by the World Wildlife Fund as near threatened, according to the Miami Herald.

Back in the summer of 2019, an individual, at the behest of law enforcement, bought 12 horns from Ching. They used funds from a New York account. Then, Ching delivered the rhino horns to undercover law enforcement officials in Bangkok, Thailand, according to the release. Law enforcement arrested the man in Thailand. He was then sent to the United States to stand trial.

According to reports, Ching faces charges of one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking. That has a max sentence of five years in prison. That goes along with two counts of money laundering, which has a max sentence of 20 years in prison, according to the release.

Where does demand for rhino horns come from? Mostly from China and Vietnam. There are people who believe that rhino horns have health benefits. This is according to Save The Rhino International, which is a conservation group. Several hundred African rhino horns enter the global market each year. Overall rhino poaching rates have dropped in recent years. This may be attributed to the coronavirus pandemic lockdowns and restrictions, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature.