Two travellers sentenced for smuggling agarwood
Tuesday, January 2, 2018
Two travellers who illegally exported agarwood on December 28 and 31, 2017, have been convicted and sentenced at Tuen Mun Magistrates' Court.
A spokesman of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) said that Customs officers intercepted an outbound male passenger at Shenzhen Bay Control Point and seized about 2.2 kilograms of incense tree (Aquilaria sinensis) wood chips in his backpack on December 28. The estimated market value was about $176,000. Upon investigation by the AFCD, the man was charged for illegal export of endangered species, and was convicted and sentenced to four weeks' imprisonment at Tuen Mun Magistrates' Court on December 29.
Another outbound male passenger was intercepted at Shenzhen Bay Control Point by Customs officers and about 4.4 kilograms of agarwood (Aquilaria sp.) wood chips were seized in his backpack on December 31. The estimated market value was about $352,000. Upon investigation by the AFCD, the man was charged for illegal export of endangered species, and was convicted and sentenced to six weeks' imprisonment at Tuen Mun Magistrates' Court today (January 2).
All Aquilaria species, including the native incense tree, are listed in Appendix II to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. They are regulated under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance.
The import, export, re-export or possession of specimens of scheduled species not in accordance with the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance is an offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $5 million and imprisonment for two years. The specimens will also be forfeited upon conviction.
The spokesman also pointed out that according to the Forests and Countryside Ordinance (Cap 96), felling of tress on Government land without permission is an offence. The maximum penalty is a fine of $25,000 and imprisonment for one year.
The spokesman appealed to the public not to defy the law by smuggling agarwood or illegally felling incense trees. To enquire about the importation or exportation of endangered species and to report illegal imports or exports, the public can call AFCD at 1823 or visit the website www.cites.hk.