26 Feb 2012

Rhino horn smugglers arrested

12:08 pm on 26 February 2012

Seven suspects in a rhino horn-smuggling ring have been arrested in the United States.

The US Fish & Wildlife Service told the BBC that the charges against them included trafficking in endangered species and conspiracy.

Rhinos are an endangered species, but their horns are smuggled for buyers who believe they cure cancer.

Fish & Wildlife director Dan Ashe told the Los Angeles Times the arrests had "dealt a serious blow'' to the trade.

Arrests were made in California, Texas, New York and New Jersey after an undercover investigation lasting 18 months.

Officials said they had intercepted at least 18 shipments of rhino horns.

Diamonds and Rolex watches bought with funds from the sale of smuggled horns, were also seized along with 20 rhino horns as well as gold ingots worth $US1 million and $US1 million in cash.