Two Congolese who had previously been detained in the country and indicted by a federal grand jury have admitted to smuggling white rhinoceros horn and elephant ivory from the Democratic Republic of the Congo to Seattle, according to the U.S. Justice Department.
A federal grand jury indicted Herdade Lokua, 34, and Jospin Mujangi, 32, both of Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, in November of last year outside of Seattle on charges of conspiracy, money laundering, smuggling, and breaking the law by engaging in human trafficking.
“In pleading guilty, both defendants admitted that beginning in November 2019, they agreed to smuggle elephant ivory, white rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales to the United States,” the Justice Department said in a statement.
They worked with a middleman to negotiate the sales and coordinate imports to Seattle, the Justice Department said, adding that between August 2020 and September 2020, Lokua and Mujangi shipped three packages containing about 49 pounds (22 kg) of ivory from Kinshasa.
The World Wildlife Organization says the meat of the pangolin, often known as the “scaly anteater,” is considered a delicacy and their scales are used in traditional Chinese medicine, making them among the most-trafficked mammal in the world.
Reuters could not immediately contact the representatives of Lokua and Mujangi.