In New York City, a 41-year old man from Queens admitted to illegal trafficking in parts from endangered African lions and tigers worth more than $150,000.
Last week, Arongkron Paul Malasukum pleaded guilty in federal court in Plano, Texas, to one count of wildlife trafficking in violation of the U.S. Lacey Act.
Federal prosecutors said Malasukum admitted to purchasing a tiger skull from undercover agents working for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service; and to purchasing lion skulls from an auction house in Texas.
Prosecutors said Malasukum shipped the skulls to his home in New York City. He then sent the items, including claws and other parts of endangered species, to Thailand for sale to a wholesale buyer.
Meanwhile, according to a report published in Mongabay last week, Kenyan police are investigating four senior politicians for wildlife trafficking.
Kenyan police linked four senior politicians to wildlife poaching and trafficking in alleged scheme to fund their election campaigns. The Criminal Investigations Department (CID), a branch of the Kenya Police Service, is investigating the politicians after the country’s August 8 elections. The investigation was prompted by testimony from a foreign trafficking suspect who was already in police custody.
John Kihara, the investigation’s lead officer with the CID, said evidence includes phone logs and bank transfer records linking the politicians to other trafficking suspects, some of whom are serving prison sentences or in police custody. Mobile cash communication records show large cash transfers with other suspects, suggesting a correlation in their crimes, he said. GPS data obtained from mobile service providers show that the accused politicians met with several other suspects; including international criminals on the run, according to Kihara.
The mounting evidence suggests that the politicians are financing and paying poachers, then selling live animals and specimens abroad to fund their campaigns leading up to the August elections, sergeant Peter Omondi of the Kenya Police Service told Mongabay. It appears that collectively the four made several million dollars off the scheme, he added. It remains unclear whether the four politicians were collaborating or working independently, but for now police are treating them as separate cases.