In March this year a Vietnamese rhino horn trafficker, Nguyen Mau Chien, was sentenced to 13 months in prison, following a criminal case in 2017. Chien is an alleged ‘kingpin’ of a major criminal network, a key rhino horn trafficker, understood to be leading the trafficking of many wildlife products from Africa to Vietnam.
In April 2017, Chien’s accomplices were caught transporting 15 rhino horns. A further 23 pieces of rhino horn were found at Chien’s house, alongside other illegal wildlife products, including tiger parts.
The 13-month sentence was inclusive of time served, which means that Chien will be released soon.
The arrest itself represents a huge step forward in battling wildlife crime across Vietnam, demonstrating that those at the top of the chains can be brought to justice. However, given the acts of criminality involved, the sentence was extremely lenient. Without effective enforcement and punishments for breaking the law, we will not be able to deter criminals from this illegal and bloody trade.