Police and customs officials in Hanoi Monday arrested a Vietnamese woman flying in from Bangkok and seized six kilograms of rhino horn from her.
Nguyen Thi Ngoc Tu, 29, was taken in at Noi Bai International Airport after scanners detected unusual items in her bag and customs officials decided to open it.
Tu said a person in Bangkok had paid her to carry the horns valued at around VND4 billion (US$188,100) on the black market.
Vietnam bans the commercial use of rhino horns but that has not effectively stopped the trade, which is fueled by a widespread belief in their medicinal effects, including as a cure for cancer.
But many also flaunt the horns as a status symbol.
Research funded by the World Wide Fund for Nature South Africa (WWF-SA) that surveyed 720 people in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City last year found that rhino horn consumers are wealthy and use the horn mostly to establish that.
Rising affluence has also triggered regular smuggling of ivory into Vietnam for consumption locally or smuggling to a third country.
Elephant tusks that Hai Phong customs officials seized from a shipment disguised as plastic gloves on October 23, 2014. Photo: Pham Hai Sam
Customs officials in the northern port city of Hai Phong Monday said they are trying to track the origin of one ton of tusks they had seized on October 23.
The ivory was hidden in bags of plastic gloves that arrived at Green Port aboard a ship.
Since the trade in rhino horns and ivory is pushing the two giant animals to the verge of extinction, Vietnam faces criticism from international conservation groups for failing to combat it.
Ho Chi Minh City officials last August seized 14.7 kilograms of ivory from the vulnerable African bush elephant in a consignment that came from France.
In May customs officials in Quang Ninh Province confiscated more than one ton of tusks in a shipment from Hong Kong.