BEIJING: Chinese police have busted a criminal gang involved in illegal trade of endangered animals, seizing hundreds of bear paws, bear meat and animal carcasses from their possession, local officials said.
Three men, all natives of the region, were arrested in a rented residence in the regional capital of Nanning this month after a three-month investigation, according to Nanning city police.
Authorities believe at least 43 black bears were slaughtered for the bear paws. The animals and their body parts are believed to be worth 20 million yuan ($3.15 million), Xinhua news agency reported.
Some of the carcasses, including those of pangolins and tortoises, were sealed in a refrigerator and disguised as tea, police said.
Police said the suspects ordered the endangered animals from the city of Dongxing, which borders Vietnam’s city of Mong Cai to the south, and sold them in southern Chinese cities, including Nanning, Guangzhou and Kunming.
It is not known whether the animals were smuggled across the border.
Officials have dealt with multiple animal smuggling cases on the China-Vietnam border over the last few years, seizing snakes, cobras and turtles.