NEW YORK, Nov. 30 (UPI) -- A man accused of buying and selling horns of the endangered black rhinoceros pleaded guilty to wildlife trafficking, the Department of Justice announced.
Fengyi Zhou, 49, of Syosset, N.Y., a dealer in Asian art, admitted purchasing as many as five rhinoceros horns, and sold them for $130,000, a Justice Department statement said Tuesday. He pleaded guilty in a Brooklyn federal court of violating the Lacey Act, which makes it unlawful to import, acquire or sell certain fish, wildlife and plants.
Zhou was identified as part of "Operation Crash," a combined effort of the Department of Justice's Environment and Natural Resources Division and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to prosecute those involved in the trading of protected species, including the black rhinoceros.
"These horns are the remains of a dead animal, and one of the world's most iconic species that will certainly go extinct in our lifetimes if we do not stop this illegal trafficking. We expect those in the arts and auction trade to understand and obey the law, and those that do not will be investigated and prosecuted for these crimes. Because of the scourge of wildlife trafficking and those like Mr. Zhou who practice it, there is now a very real possibility that the rhinoceros could disappear from Africa," Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden said in the statement.