Ontario businessman guilty of smuggling elephant ivory

November 17, 2016 – Newmarket, Ontario – Office of the Minister of Environment and Climate Change

Illegal trafficking of wildlife is not acceptable in Canada. Unlawfully exploiting species for profit will not be tolerated.

On November 14, 2016, Ontario corporation 3062424, operating as 888 Auctions, and its director, Mr. Dong Heon Kim, pleaded guilty to unlawfully exporting a leather product made from python skin and two pieces of elephant ivory, in contravention of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). A combined fine totalling $12,500 was levied, and both the company and its owner were each sentenced to two years of probation.

Acting on intelligence, Environment and Climate Change Canada’s (ECCC’s) Enforcement Branch and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS’s) Office of Law Enforcement began an investigation into the activities of 888 Auctions, in December 2013.

The joint investigation revealed that, on one occasion, 888 Auctions placed a small elephant-ivory tusk, later determined through scientific testing to be from an elephant killed in 2001, along with an ivory carving into a parcel falsely labeled as a “gift ornament”. The package was mailed to a buyer in the United States, with no return address. These efforts to avoid detection were unsuccessful as the package was intercepted by USFWS special agents. Both pieces of ivory were determined to be from the African Forest Elephant (Loxodonta cyclotis).

On a separate occasion, 888 Auctions unlawfully exported to the United States a leather case made from python skin, in February 2015.

The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is implemented in Canada through WAPPRIITA. Both the ivory export and the python-case export were made without the necessary Canadian CITES export permits.

Quick facts

  • INTERPOL estimates the value of wildlife crime worldwide to be worth between US$8 billion and US$23 billion, making it the fourth most lucrative crime area after illegal drugs, human trafficking, and counterfeiting.
  • Wildlife elephant populations in Africa have been under great pressure from poaching and trafficking in ivory. It is estimated that between 20,000 and 30,000 were poached last year.
  • Both Canada and the United States are participating in the Hanoi Conference on Illegal Wildlife Trade, which is taking place on November 17th, in Vietnam. This high-level meeting will gather country and conservation leaders together to build strategies to take on the illegal trade of species, while protecting the sustainable use of wildlife that hundreds of millions of persons depend on.

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