Vietnamese arrested with 10 rhino horns in South Africa

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The South African police arrested a Vietnamese man Tuesday for allegedly possessing 10 rhino horns and an elephant tusk totally worth nearly US$3 million.

The unidentified man was arrested in an apartment in Johannesburg, where he also kept the illegal animal parts, Lao Dong newspaper reported.

Vish Naidoo, a police spokesperson, said the police had to force the door open since the man refused to let officers in.

"There was a tip-off that we acted on speedily in fear that the suspect may try to dispose of incriminating items," he told Reuters.

Naidoo said more people may be involved since the police found the passports of several other Asians in the apartment besides $625,000 in cash.

The man would be tried this week, he said.

Vietnam and China are major markets for rhino horns due to a belief, despite the lack of scientific proof, that they can cure various diseases including cancer.

Last month 24-year-old Vietnamese That Thai Dung was caught in South Africa's OR Tambo Airport with three rhino horns in his luggage valued at around $900,000.

Many Vietnamese, who come from a country where rhinos went extinct last year, have been caught engaging in the rhino-horn trade in South Africa. Last November two of them were arrested with 15 horns.

AP reported that South Africa, which now has the most rhinos in the world, is losing two every day to poachers. The country has lost at least 210 of the giant mammals to the trade this year even though poaching and killing of the rhino is punishable with jail terms of up to 10 years.

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