Mainly, according to Hong Kong Customs this was the largest amount of pangolin scales to be ever seized by the agency.

Ivory Tusks / Credit: Hong Kong Customs

Mainland Customs, the Customs and Excise Department conducted a random inspection of 40-foot container that arrived in Hong Kong and reported to contain frozen beef through intelligence analysis and risk assessment. After inspection, Customs officers found the suspected pangolin scales and ivory in the container.

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The smugglers used ice bags and frozen meat to obscure the distinctive smell of the pangolin scales. The shipment was bound for Vietnam.

After further investigation, officers of the Customs and Excise Department arrested the male proprietor and a female staff member of a trading company in Mong Kok at ages 39 and 29.

Smuggling is a serious offence in Hong Kong. Under the Import and Export Ordinance, anyone who enters or exports unmanifested goods is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $2 million and imprisonment for seven years.

Concluding, under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, anyone who illegally imports and exports endangered species is liable on conviction to a maximum fine of $10 million and imprisonment for 10 years.