Customs officials at an airport in Mekong Delta have seized rhino horns weighing almost 29 kilograms from a Vietnamese passenger arriving from South Korea, authorities said on Wednesday.
The incidence was discovered on Monday when customs official at Can Tho International Airport scanned two luggage owned by Do Thanh Son and found the suspected items hidden inside one of his bags, Can Tho Customs Department said.
Officials asked Son to open the luggage, but the 38-year-old man refused, saying his bags contained koi fish and opening them without an oxygenation system would cause the fish to die.
The officials later forced him to open the bags and found 11 horns weighing 28.7 kilos inside one of them.
Son’s flight was supposed to land in Ho Chi Minh City airport but was forced to divert to Can Tho following a decision by the Vietnamese government to force all flights from South Korea to land in Can Tho.
This was in a bid to prevent an overload of Covid-19 quarantine cases.
The man has been quarantined since he arrived from South Korea, a hotspot of the novel coronavirus, while Can Tho authorities are investigating to find the origins of these horns.
The sale and purchase of rhino horns are strictly prohibited in Vietnam, but the country remains one of the biggest consumers, with people believing it has near-miraculous powers to cure diseases like cancer.
In China and Vietnam, one kilogramme of rhino horn can cost up to $30,000. One horn typically weighs between three and seven kilogrammes.
International trade in rhino horns has been banned for the past four decades but illegal poaching continues, with 1,000 rhinos killed in South Africa alone every year.