Nha Trang turtle pusher continues work after November raid

By Nguyen Chung, Thanh Nien News

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Police say a now-notorious sea tortoise trafficker in Nha Trang was found with another thousand creatures stored in a hidden warehouse in the central beach town of Khanh Hoa Province.
Hoang Tuan Hai, 42, told Khanh Hoa police that he could not remember precisely when he stocked his third warehouse, which closely resembles a normal livestock farm.
The farm's owner said Hai brought the turtles to her house 10 days ago.
Hai apparently continued his illegal taxidermy operation a few weeks after police raided two of his warehouses and seized more than a thousand sea turtle corpses.
The most recent raid yielded even larger corpses that were in much better condition than those seized last month, authorities said.
Nha Trang police say they are continuing to monitor and investigate Hai. However, they are concerned that they lack the space to store such a massive evidentiary haul.
The officers spent the entirety of November 20 counting and classifying more than a thousand stuffed sea turtles, which they seized the day before from two downtown warehouses.
Police unexpectedly stumbled upon the buildings in Phuoc Dong Ward where they seized around 1,359 kilos of turtles, police said.
Many of the preserved carcasses were discovered to contain tracking chips implanted by scientists who had hoped to study the rare animals.
Prior to the discovery of the third location, police were already calling the initial raid the largest illegal taxidermy operation they'd ever busted.
Hai admitted to having hired a crew to hunt the creatures down.
The staff at his two warehouses then slaughtered the animals, gutted them and soaked their shells and skins in a chemical preservative.
Hai allegedly planned to sell the preserved bodies as "handicrafts."
Police said they have temporarily handed the confiscated remains over to the Nha Trang Oceanographic Institute.

Sea turtle corpses being soaked in chemical preservative at a warehouse in Nha Trang on December 19, 2014. Photo: Nguyen Chung

Sea turtle corpses found at a warehouse in Nha Trang on December 19, 2014.
 Photo: Nguyen Chung 

Police seized over a thousand sea turtle corpses at a secret warehouse in Nha Trang on December 19, 2014 after the same number of the endangered creatures were seized last month at two nearby warehouses.Photo: Nguyen Chung

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