Vietnamese NGO petitions for criminal charges in sea turtle bust

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Thousands of sea turtles were found in a warehouse in Nha Trang on November 26, 2014. Photo courtesy of Lao Dong. Thousands of sea turtles were found in a warehouse in Nha Trang on November 26, 2014. Photo courtesy of Lao Dong.

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A local wildlife protection organization has petitioned the Nha Trang authorities to press criminal charges against the members of a small ring that killed and traded over 4.4 tons of sea turtles last month.
Nguyen Thi Phuong Dung, deputy head of Education for Nature – Vietnam (ENV), said that she sent the suggestion to four offices, including the Ministry of Public Security, the Ministry of Environment, the People’s Committee of Khanh Hoa province and the provincial department of Public Security.
On November 26, Nha Trang police unexpectedly stumbled upon the two warehouses in Phuoc Dong Ward, where they discovered and seized more than a thousand stuffed specimens of the endangered species.
After a whole day of measuring them, police announced the turtles weighed 4.4 tons in total.
However, Dung said local police have yet to press charges against Hoang Tuan Hai, the owner of two warehouses where they found the stuffed creatures.
Dung added that the top leader of the sea turtle trading ring, which the ENV identified during their independent investigation, was never mentioned in police descriptions.
Meanwhile, the head of the provincial environmental crime division, Dao Van Toan, said that they had to wait for a review by the Khanh Hoa department of agriculture before proceeding with charges.
“Given that we discovered 4.4 tons of sea turtles, their identification and classification could take months,” said Toan.
“After having the results, we will arrange a council to examine the evidence and notify investigators as soon as they find any evidence of a crime.”
 

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