Jail and penalty for international smugglers
On 27 May, international smugglers were sentenced to imprisonment and penalties as they were found guilty of trading Amur tiger derivates and bear paws between Russia and China.
The damage to the Far Eastern Russia nature is huge: around 900 paws of brown and black bears, 4 tiger skins, 531 saiga horns and more than 60 kilos of tiger bones.
WWF and TRAFFIC experts were involved for independent expert evaluations of confiscated wildlife products. They estimated the commercial value to more than US$ 200,000.
The criminal group consisted in six people: three Russian and three Chinese. The most active members of the band, one Russian and one Chinese, were sentenced to 8 years of imprisonment and a penalty of US$ 8500.
â€œThe unprecedented huge number of smuggled derivatives makes this case highly interesting. The latest prosecution marks the start of wildlife crime being treated with the seriousness it deservesâ€, said Natalia Pervushina, co-ordinator of TRAFFICâ€™s Russian Far East programme.
â€œNo damage was compensated to the State from the criminal activity of poachersâ€ said Gennady Zherebkin, law enforcement advisor of the WWF Russia Amur branch.
â€œUnfortunately, this is not the only case when the objects of crime are the animals and plants and the persons under trial are not condemned for ecological crimes.â€
The smugglers were caught for the first time by law-enforcement services in January 2007. They were transporting 8 bags of bear paws, 3 tiger skins, several horns and various fragments of different animalsâ€™ carcasses.
In March 2008, an attempt to get some 120 bear paws across Khanka Lake
to China did not succeed as the police managed to confiscate the goods.
But the criminals were able to flee.