18 November 2013

The UK is clamping down on crime groups that make millions of pounds every year smuggling endangered species into the country with border security seizing products including illegal ivory, birds of prey and Chinese medicines containing ingredients such as rhino horn.

Immigration Minister Mark Harper said: "Organised criminal gangs will smuggle anything if they think there is a profit to be made and animal products can be worth millions of pounds on the black market. The fact that this trade is contributing to the threat of extinction faced by many endangered species is of no interest to these ruthless traffickers."

During 2012/13 the Border Force discovered 466 Hermann’s tortoises at Heathrow Airport, seized 1.6 tonnes of tortoise jelly at Thames Port and stopped 3890 kilos of medicinal products containing extracts from endangered species getting into the country.

"Border Force’s specialist officers are world renowned for their excellence in identifying and preventing the trade of illegal animal and plant material," the Minister said.

He noted that there had also been an increase in the number of products such as slimming supplements and face creams, containing caviar extract, being smuggled into the UK.

Officers at Manchester Airport seized 126,000 pots of "Detonate" and 15,120 pots of "CRAZE" in a shipment from America. These are both nutritional supplements containing orchids.