Police in the north-central province of Thanh Hoa announced Sunday the confiscation of 175 kilograms of pangolin (a.k.a anteater) scales during a traffic stop a day earlier.
Traffic police stopped the car as it traveled north on National Highway1A at 10:40 p.m. on August 16.
During a search of the vehicle, officers discovered a bag containing 45 kilograms of pangolin scales. The remaining 130 kilograms were hidden in an improvised compartment below the back seats, the police said.
A haul of pangolin scales hidden in an improvised compartment below the back seats. Photo: Ngoc Minh
Driver Nguyen Van Son, 36, failed to present any documents attesting to the origin of the pangolin scales, police said.
The scales have a street value of around VND2 billion (US$94,000), they said.
Pangolins -- protected under both international conventions and Vietnamese law -- are sought by poachers who sell their scales to practitioners of traditional Chinese medicine for conditions such as psoriasis and poor circulation; and for their meat as a high-end delicacy in China and Vietnam.
Prolific smugglers face up to seven years in prison under Vietnamese law. But with growing demand, the trade is only becoming more lucrative.