US seizes DR Congo citizens for ivory trafficking

Two citizens of the Democratic Republic of Congo have been arrested in the US for allegedly trafficking elephant tusks and rhino horns from their country.

“Herdade Lokua, 23, and Jospin Mujangi, 31, of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo, were arrested on 3 November outside of Seattle,” the US Department of Justice said in a statement.

It said the two had been indicted for “conspiracy, money laundering, smuggling and legal violations for the trafficking”.

An 11-count indictment alleges the two worked with a middleman to smuggle four packages of elephant ivory and rhino horn into the US.

It says they had the animal parts cut into smaller pieces which were painted black and mixed with ebony wood to avoid detection.

The suspects are alleged to have paid bribes to have them shipped. The buyers paid $14,500 (£10,600) for the ivory and $18,000 (£13,300) for the horn, according to the indictment.

They are also said to have sold pangolin scales to a US buyer but ultimately did not ship them.

They could face a maximum of over 20 years’ imprisonment if convicted, the justice department says.

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