Chinese town at the centre of global ivory smuggling

请往下阅读此博客中文版 / Please scroll down for Chinese language version.

.

.

Exposed: The Chinese town at the centre of global ivory smuggling  

LONDON: An exhaustive investigation has revealed how criminal gangs originating from an obscure town in southern China have come to dominate the smuggling of illegal ivory tusks poached from African elephants.

Shuidong town is home to a network of ivory trafficking syndicates whose reach extends to East and West Africa, including the elephant poaching hotspots of Tanzania and Mozambique.

One syndicate member told undercover investigators that Shuidong is the destination for a staggering 80 per cent of all poached ivory smuggled into China from Africa.

A new report, The Shuidong Connection: Exposing the global hub of the illegal ivory trade, by the London-based Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is the culmination of almost three years of painstaking undercover work during which investigators infiltrated one of the leading syndicates. This involved tracking a shipment of more than two tonnes of tusks from northern Mozambique to Shuidong, providing unique insights into the workings of an active ivory smuggling gang.

EIA first encountered the Shuidong smugglers in September 2014 while investigating the catastrophic poaching of elephants in Tanzania. In Zanzibar, the main gateway for shipments of tusks flowing out of Tanzania, EIA met with a sea cucumber trader from Shuidong who revealed that a community of his compatriots in Zanzibar was behind the smuggling, with a single group sending out 20 shipments to China in just one year.

They formed part of an international network of people from Shuidong supplying the booming Chinese market for sea cucumbers; with their knowledge of working in Africa and supply routes to China, their presence in strategic coastal towns and their business cover, the Shuidong traders in East and West Africa were ideally positioned to move into the illegal ivory trade.

In April 2016, EIA investigators travelled to Mozambique to ground-truth rumours that ivory traffickers were switching their focus from Tanzania as a result of improved enforcement efforts and prosecutions. In the port town of Pemba, they encountered a group of three Chinese nationals who were conspicuous because of their unique dialect – they were all from Shuidong.

Posing as potential ivory traders and logistics specialists, the investigators gradually gained the trust of the syndicate partners; over the course of more than a year and through multiple meetings, they were able to piece together a detailed picture of the enormous scale and nature scale of the operations, which involves:

  • engagement of trusted Africa-based fixers to consolidate shipments of poached ivory in secure locations;
  • key Chinese syndicate players travelling to Africa to inspect tusks for quality and, subsequently, to African ports to remotely observe loading onto vessels;
  • bribing key customs and border enforcement personnel as well as freight agents;
  • concealing tusks in innocuous-looking shipments of plastic pellets;
  • using historically secure smuggling routes dotted with accomplices at every stage, known as ‘owning the road’;
    • obscuring the origin of shipping containers of ivory by sending them to be reloaded in transit countries such as South Korea;
  • the ability to swiftly diversify into other illegal wildlife products such as pangolin scales, totoaba fish maw and rhino horn as demand and supplies varied
  • continuously re-investing criminal profits into new ivory and other wildlife shipments.

Despite the Chinese Government’s laudable decision to close its domestic ivory market, leading to a fall in price for ivory tusks in the country, the smuggling group was still active as of late June 2017, extending its operations to West Africa to source lucrative tusks poached from forest elephants.

Mary Rice, EIA Executive Director, said: “The Chinese Government’s decision to shut its domestic ivory market by the end of 2017 is an admirable response to mounting international pressure to end the industrial-scale slaughter of Africa’s elephants.  What EIA discovered in Shuidong, however, clearly shows transnational criminal networks are operating with near-total impunity. It is vital that enforcement agencies in Africa and China put these criminals out of business immediately.”

Julian Newman, EIA Campaigns Director, added: “EIA has shared, in confidence, the detailed intelligence unearthed during the course of the Shuidong investigation with relevant Government departments and enforcement agencies and looks to them to use it. Action is needed to end this huge criminal enterprise which is devastating Africa’s elephant populations.”

 

Interviews are available on request; please contact:

  • Mary Rice, EIA Executive Director, via maryrice[at]eia-international.org or telephone +44 20 7354 7960
  • Julian Newman, EIA Campaigns Director, via juliannewman[at]eia-international.org or telephone +44 20 7354 7960

 

EDITORS’ NOTES

  1. The Environmental Investigation Agency (EIA) is a UK- and Washington DC-based Non-Governmental Organisation that investigates and campaigns against a wide range of environmental crimes and abuses, including illegal wildlife trade, illegal logging, hazardous waste and trade, climate- and ozone-altering chemicals, exploitation of cetaceans (whales, dolphins and porpoises) and marine plastic pollution.
  2. Read & download The Shuidong Connection: Exposing the global hub of the illegal ivory trade at https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-The-Shuidong-Connection-FINAL.pdf

 

Environmental Investigation Agency
62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
UK
www.eia-international.org
Tel: +44 207 354 7960

ends

 

 

揭密中国水东:全球象牙走私基地的市镇

伦敦:调查详细地披露了,来自中国南方一个鲜为人知市镇的犯罪团伙如何主导从非洲将偷猎的大象象牙走私到中国。

广东水东是一批象牙走私团伙的基地。这些犯罪团伙活动的范围遍及东非和西非地区,包括坦桑尼亚、莫桑比克的大象偷猎热点。

犯罪团伙的一个成员向调查员表示,所有从非洲走私到中国的象牙,多达80%都是先运往水东的。

英国伦敦非政府组织环境调查署(EIA)新发布的报告《揭密中国水东:鲜为人知的非洲象牙走私基地》是用了接近三年的时间深入调查的成果。在这三年里,EIA调查员混进了最主要的犯罪团伙之一,跟踪一批重2吨多的象牙从莫桑比克到水东的全部走私路线,最终得以深入了解一个长期活跃的极隐蔽的象牙走私团伙的运作模式 。

2014年9月,环境调查署在坦桑尼亚调查灾难性的大象偷猎危机时,第一次遇到了来自水东的象牙走私者。在坦桑尼亚主要象牙出境点——桑给巴尔,环境调查署遇见了一名来自水东的海参商贩,他透露他的同乡们在于桑给巴尔暗中操控象牙走私业。在仅仅一年之内,一个团伙已经将20批象牙走私到中国。

这个团伙是由水东人组成、以海参作掩护的国际网络团伙的一部分。他们已经对非洲的工作环境以及来往非洲与中国的运输交通了如指掌,他们经常出没易于走私货物的沿海城市,而且他们可以利用合法的水产为掩护——这些都成为了水东贩子在东非和西非进入象牙走私业时的便利条件。

在2016年,随着坦桑尼亚的执法和检控情况逐渐改善,有传言称,象牙贩运者把注意力转移到了莫桑比克。2016年4月,EIA调查员前往莫桑比克进行实况调查。在港口小城彭巴(Pemba),EIA遇到了三个中国公民,他们独特的方言立即引起了调查员的注意——他们皆来自水东。

透过乔裝成象牙商贩和物流人士,EIA调查员逐渐赢得了走私团伙的信任。在一年多内,几次会面期间,调查员逐渐获得了大量的情报,足以了解该团伙走私行动的范围及特征,例如:

  • 雇佣可以信任的、在非洲本地的疏通者,将多批取自偷猎大象的象牙收藏到安全地点
  • 然后犯罪团伙的关键中国成员前往非洲查验收购的象牙质量,然后去非洲港口,从远处高点观察货物装箱直到上货船
  • 贿赂关键的海关及边境执法官员以及货运代理
  • 将象牙藏在看似合法的塑料颗粒货品中
  • 利用一直以来有保障的走私路线进行走私,并且在每个阶段都有同伙的监督
  • 在中转站国家例如韩国,重新调换原本装有象牙的集装箱,从而隐藏货物真正的来源地
  • 随着市场价格的波动,团伙可以相应的走私其他野生动物制品,例如穿山甲片、金钱胶和犀牛角,速度惊人
  • 将走私所得的利润不断重新投资到新一轮的象牙和其他野生动物的收购及走私

尽管中国政府最近作出了令人赞赏的决定,终止了国内的象牙销售和加工,导致国内象牙价格下降,不过该走私团伙在2017年6月底仍然活跃,而且为了收购利润更大的被偷猎的森林象的象牙,他们将其活动范围又延伸至西非。

EIA执行董事Mary Rice表示:“中国政府决定在2017年底前终止国内象牙贸易是对巨大的国际压力给予令人钦佩的回应以结束规模庞大的非洲大象屠杀行为。不过,EIA在水东的发现却明确显示跨国犯罪网络持续在从事非法行为,而且可以逍遥法外。非洲和中国的执法机构立即阻止这些非法行为是极其重要的。”

EIA项目负责人Julian Newman说:“EIA已经将在调查水东的过程中得到的资料给予给有关政府部门和执法机构,并期望他们利用这些资料帮助执法。为了终止这些正在毁灭非洲象种群的犯罪罪行,必须刻不容缓的采取行动。”

 

如有任何查询和请求,可安排采访;请联系:

 

补充资料:

  1. 环境调查署(EIA)是一家位于英国以及美国华盛顿的非政府组织,致力于调查和反对各种环境犯罪,包括非法野生动物交易、非法砍伐、危险废弃物及其贸易、改变气候和臭氧层的化学品的交易、鲸目动物的虐待以及海相塑料污染。
  2. 阅读和下载《揭密中国水东:鲜为人知的非洲象牙走私基地》:https://eia-international.org/wp-content/uploads/EIA-The-Shuidong-Connection-FINAL-Chinese-language-1.pdf

 

Environmental Investigation Agency
62-63 Upper Street
London N1 0NY
UK
www.eia-international.org
电话:+44 207 354 7960

结束