The “Queen of Ivory” has finally been caught. Yang Feng Glan was able to evade arrest for more than 15 years. The 66-year-old Chinese woman became infamous for her role in an elephant tusk and wildlife smuggling ring in Africa.
Yang Feng Glan is accused of smuggling at least 700 elephant tusks out of Africa, MSN reports. The Queen of Ivory was detained near Dar es Salaam, the capital of Tanzania, after a high-speed chase. Glan may not strike an imposing figure, being petite and wearing rather thick glasses, but Chinese law enforcement agents still consider her a wildlife and ivory poaching kingpin.
— National Post (@nationalpost) October 10, 2015
Yang is accused of masterminding a smuggling ring which was worth millions of dollars. She allegedly used her ties to elite members of society in both Tanzania and China to move the ivory around the world. Damage to the wildlife in Africa, to the Tanzania region in particular, has been deemed “immense” due to the illegal animal trade. Between 2009 and 2014, the elephant population in Tanzania reportedly dropped from 109,051 to 43,330, CNN reports.
Elephant Action League administrator Andrea Crosta said the Queen of Ivory was at the center of the elephant killing. China is believed to be the largest consumer of illegal ivory. Citizens reportedly use the elephant tusks in holistic medicine mixtures. The demand for ivory in the country, and across Asia, has led to the massacre of scores of rhinos and elephants.
The Queen of Ivory will go on trial in Tanzania for the wildlife charges levied against her, if convicted Yang will be on of the biggest animal parts smugglers ever sent to prison.
Tanzania arrest of ‘Queen of Ivory’ has China, world’s biggest consumer of ivory products, turning on her http://t.co/ip4jNQe1Ff
— M&G Africa (@MandGAfrica) October 12, 2015
She first went to Africa during the 1970s, according to police investigators. During that time, China was starting construction on a railway into Tanzania. Yang was then reportedly working as a translator and became on of the first Chinese citizens to become a trained Swahili speakers. After moving to Africa, Yang founded the Beijing Great Wall Investment company and the Beijing Restaurant — both businesses were a success. In 2012 the accused ivory smuggling kingpin became the secretary general of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council.
“She played a tremendous role in the killing of animals,” an unidentified senior Tanzanian official said. “She helped buy the poachers guns and ammunition. She was the connection between the local brokers and the international market.”
Tanzania’s National and Transnational Serious Crimes Investigation Unit maintian that the Queen of Ivory was using her restaurant as a front to move the ivory, hiding it in food shipments.
During an interview with the China Daily last year, Yang said, “Now I do not count on the restaurant to make money. Instead, I see it as a place where people from China and Tanzania can communicate, get to know more friends and conduct information exchanges.”
Last week, law enforcement investigators in Tanzania were sent to arrest Yang. The officers surrounded her home in a 7-hour standoff. Yang managed to sneak out of a side door of the home and got into her car and sped away.
The police officers were eventually able to corner the Queen of Ivory. She put her hands up and surrendered without further incident. Law enforcement officials referred to Yang as the “shark” they have been chasing for a long time.
The accused ivory smuggling kingpin allegedly bought and sold approximately 706 tusks from elephants and rhinos. The tusks from the wild animals were reportedly worth around $2.5 million.
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