(CN) - A Canadian man was sentenced to two years in prison for smuggling ceremonial cups carved from rhinoceros horns, the Justice Department said Friday.
Linxun Liao smuggled 16 "libation cups" from the United States to China in 2012 and 2013, according to a U.S. Department of Justice press release.
The government says he bought the cups online from auction houses before sending them to China using a Manhattan-based courier service. Liao did not declare the exports to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service or get the require permits, even though he knew he needed to, the press release states.
Libation cups are communal drinking vessels that were used on important ceremonial occasions in Chinese culture, and some were made of rhinoceros horns, according to a BBC report.
The market value of the cups that Liao smuggled is more than $1 million, the Justice Department said. They were sold at an antique business in China, according to the government.
Liao, 35, was arrested in February of this year as part of Operation Crash, a law enforcement effort to crack down on illegal rhinoceros horn trafficking. The Canada citizen pleaded guilty in June to illegally smuggling rhinoceros horn objects from the United States.
In addition to two years in prison, Liao was given two years of supervised release and was ordered to forfeit $1 million and 304 pieces of carved ivory found in a search.
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