A Chinese woman, known to her associates and buyers as the “Queen of Ivory,” for her ability to smuggle elephant tusks out of Africa, was finally nabbed.
The “Queen of Ivory,” Yang Feng Glan, has been arrested in Tanzania. For 15 long years, she successfully evaded capture and has been responsible for the deaths of thousands of African elephants for their tusks. Feng Glan has been formally charged with smuggling at least 706 elephant tusks. The street value of the tusks, range from $2.5 to $3.5 million.
Authorities strongly believe that the diminutive looking 66-year-old Feng Glan is the most notorious ivory trafficker in East Africa. She has been operational for the last 15 years, but her network grew exponentially in the last decade. She is believed to run a sophisticated and convoluted ivory supply chain between East Africa and China. Following the arrest of the “Queen of Ivory,” Tanzanian authorities managed to grab quite a few of her associates and suppliers, reported CNN.
The “Queen of Ivory” was nabbed in Tanzania by a special task force from the nation’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit. The special force carefully and covertly stalked her for over a year. The chase proved quite difficult as Feng Glan carefully hid her tracks and always kept a very low profile. Moreover, she regularly traveled between Beijing, Uganda, and Tanzania while carefully orchestrating the highly-illegal ivory trade, reported Fox News.
What made the arrest even more challenging is the fact that the “Queen of Ivory” was highly connected with corrupt, but high-ranking officials. Feng Glan is believed to have landed in Tanzania as a Swahili-Chinese translator in 1975, right about the time when China had begun to build a railway in the East African nation, reported MSN. She worked her way inside the dangerous, but very lucrative and highly rewarding illegal ivory trade, and thereafter she began her trafficking operations in 2006, which has been growing ever since.
Tanzanian authorities claim that Feng Glan even financed and helped procure powerful and long-range weapons for the poachers. She is even believed to have facilitated the purchase and transfer of all-terrain vehicles.
Feng Glan owned many businesses in the impoverished regions of the country, including a posh restaurant in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s largest city. Moreover, she was quite well placed in the bureaucracy. On a public podium, the “Queen of Ivory” was the respected secretary general of the Tanzania-China Africa Business Council.
Speaking about the crucial arrest that is bound to significantly slow down the ivory trade, Andrea Costa, a spokesman for the Elephant Action League, a nonprofit group that fights crime against wildlife explained what the arrest means.
“Across Africa, they keep arresting small fish here and there. They have finally caught a big fish. The most notorious ivory trafficker brought to task so far. It’s a very important arrest, the most important in Africa in the past years.”
Feng Glan was referred to as the “Queen of Ivory” for her ability to offer swift service despite the multiple checkpoints which were specifically established to prevent the ivory trade. She was the crucial link between East African poachers and eager buyers in China. Needless to say, elephant and rhino tusks are quite popular in China as they are regularly used in traditional Chinese medicines and believed by locals to completely cure a variety of aliments that modern medicines simply can’t.
Though it is difficult to get an exact figure, multiple reports indicate the “Queen of Ivory” alone, may have been responsible for the murder of thousands of elephants. Nabbing her might be one of the biggest milestones in the country’s fight against the illegal ivory trade.
[Image Credit | Philippe Lopez, Emile Kouton / Getty Images, National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit, Tanzania via Fox News]