Two men jailed for smuggling ivory

SINGAPORE - Two Vietnamese men were given jail terms of 16 months each on Wednesday for trying to smuggle ivory worth $65,000 from Angola to Laos through Singapore.

The court said it took a tough stance on such illegal activities as they tarnished the Republic's reputation. The duo were caught last Tuesday after a Certis Cisco officer saw something strange when screening their two check-in luggage bags at Changi Airport's Terminal 2. When the bags were opened, 16 ivory bangles, 13 tusks and 109 ivory cubes weighing 46kg were found.

Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecuting officer Edwin Ignatious M. said these would have come from at least four elephants. He added: "This is very damaging for Singapore, especially our international image, that we are a laundering centre for illegal wildlife." He asked that salesman Hoang Xuan Quang, 43, and cook To Manh Dung, 30, be given stiff sentences.

District Judge Eugene Teo agreed, and said a deterrent sentence was still required even if Quang and Dung were simply acting as couriers.

The two were working in Luanda, Angola, when Quang told Dung they could earn US$1,000 (S$1,280) for each bag of ivory they delivered to Laos. Another Vietnamese man arranged for the duo's airfare.

He picked them up in a cab and handed over two bags when they arrived at the Luanda airport on Jan 13 to fly to Laos via Dubai and Singapore. They were told someone would approach them at Vientiane airport to collect the bags.

elena@sph.com.sg

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