New Yorker Gets 2 Years for Trafficking Rhino Horns

In this Saturday, July 8, 2017, photo, a one-horned rhinoceros wades through flooded Kaziranga national park in Kaziranga, 156 miles east of Gauhati, India. Police are patrolling for poachers as rhinoceros, deer and buffalo move to higher ground to escape floods inundating an Indian preserve. Kaziranga National Park has the world’s largest population of the one-horned rhinoceros and is home to many other wildlife. (AP Photo/ Anupam Nath)

WASHINGTON (CN) – A federal judge handed a two-year prison sentence Monday to a New York art dealer who illegally trafficked horns from endangered black rhinoceros.

Fengyi Zhou, of Syosset, New York, admitted previously to purchasing as many as five uncarved rhinoceros horns from another Asian arts dealer in New York. 

Because he was given an “Endangered Species Bill of Sale” along with the horns, prosecutors say Zhou was aware that four of the horns were purchased in Texas and unlawfully transported to New York. 

Zhou tried to turn the horns over immediately, trying to sell them an associate living in China for more than $130,000.  

The Justice Department identified Zhou as part of “Operation Crash,” which takes its name from the term for a herd of rhinoceros.

As of November 2015, Operation Crash has resulted in the prosecution and sentencing of nearly 32 subjects and recovery of approximately $5.6 million through forfeiture and restitution, according to a statement by the Justice Department.

All species of rhinoceros are protected under the federal Endangered Species Act and international law.

Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horns has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by more than 180 countries around the world to protect imperiled fish, wildlife and plants.

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