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Art Dealer Pleads Guilty to Selling Rhino Horns

(CN) - A California art dealer recently admitted to selling black rhinoceros horns to an undercover federal agent.

Lumsden Quan, 47, pleaded guilty on Friday to a violation of the Lacey and Endangered Species Act and to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act for knowingly selling the horns to a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Services agent, according to the Justice Department.

He reportedly sold the agent two horns for $55,000 last year in Las Vegas. The agent was posing as a Colorado wildlife collector.

All rhinoceros species are protected under U.S. and international law. The black rhinoceros is an herbivore species and one of the biggest remaining megafauna, or large animals, on earth, according to a federal government press release.

Quan was part of Operation Crash, a law enforcement effort targeting the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species. The operation is named after the term for a herd of rhinos.

Rhinoceros poaching has increased significantly in the past decade. More than 3,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone since 2008, an increase of more than 7,000 percent compared to the previous 17 years, the Justice Department says.

The San Francisco art dealer admitted in federal court to conspiring with co-defendant Edward Levine to sell the black rhinoceros horns, according to the government. Levine's trial is scheduled for Oct. 19.

Quan is scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 3. He faces up to five years in prison.

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