The “Queen of Ivory” has captured and arrested after a 7-hour standoff and high-speed chase. Yang Feng Glan, a 66-year-old Chinese woman, was allegedly the kingpin of a $2.5 million ivory smuggling ring in her home country and Tanzania.
The ivory queen allegedly smuggled at least 700 elephant tusks out of Africa and Asia, MSN reports. Yang Feng Glan was arrested near the Tanzanian capital of Dar es Salaam. In spite of her small stature and pleasant demeanor, the accused ivory smuggler is still considered an imposing figure by Chinese officials.
The Queen of Ivory will go on trial in Tanzania for elephant tusk and rhino tusk smuggling trade charges, Yahoo News reports. If convicted, she will reportedly be perhaps the biggest ivory trade smuggler ever put behind bars.
Yang allegedly used her connection to the elite members of society in both China and Tanzania to smuggle ivory around the globe. The damage the illegal animal trade has done in Africa is reportedly immense. The elephant population in Africa has been on a steady decline since 2009. In the Tanzanian region, the elephant population has dropped from 109,051 to 43,330 in the past eight years, CNN reports.
China is often noted as the largest consumer of illegal ivory in the world. Chinese citizens are believed to be using the animal tusks in holistic remedies. The demand for ivory in Asia has reportedly led to the slaughter of thousands of elephants and rhinos.
Yang Feng Glan first relocated to Africa during the 1970s, according to law enforcement officials. Construction of a railway connecting China and Tanzania began during the same time period. The ivory queen worked as a translator and is believed to have been one of the first Chinese citizens trained to speak Swahili.
After the move to Africa, the Queen of Ivory founded both the Beijing Great Wall Investment company and the Beijing Restaurant — each of the businesses became a success and bolstered her standing in her new home.
In 2012, the accused ivory smuggling ringleader became the secretary general of the Tanzania China-Africa Business Council.
“She played a tremendous role in the killing of animals,” one unidentified senior Tanzanian official told the local media. “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 report that the Queen of Ivory was using her restaurant as an ivory smuggling front. She allegedly hid the illegal animal parts in food shipments.
“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,” Yang said during an interview with the China Daily in 2014.
Tanzania police officer assembled to arrest Yang last week. The agents surrounded her home, and a 7-hour standoff ensued. The ivory queen somehow managed to sneak out of a side door in the home. She was able to reach her car and embark on a high-speed getaway, which turned into a chase.
The Tanzania police officers were ultimately able to corner Yang. She put her hands up and surrendered and was taken into custody. Police officials referred to Yang as the “shark” they have been chasing for a long time.
The Queen of Ivory allegedly sold approximately 706 tusks from elephants and rhinos in less than a decade. The tusks from elephants and rhinos were reportedly worth around $2.5 million.
[Image via Shutterstock.com]