'Ivory Queen' tusk smuggler faces 15 years in African jail
A court in Tanzania yesterday convicted a notorious Chinese trafficker known as the 'Ivory Queen', dealing a significant blow to the Asian crime networks behind much of the slaughter of Africa's elephants.
Yang Fenlan, a 69-year-old businesswoman who for years passed herself off as a respectable member of Tanzania's Chinese expatriate community, was jailed for 15 years after being found guilty of smuggling the tusks of more than 350 elephants to Asia. She faces an additional two years in prison if she fails to pay a fine equivalent to €3.2m.
The verdict was welcomed by conservationists, who said it would send a strong message to other Chinese smugglers.
"It's hugely significant," said Tom Milliken, of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. "These large shipments of ivory... are almost inevitably being moved by Asian transnational criminal syndicates. The prospect of spending that long in an African jail is going to be a deterrent for certain individuals."