NARITA, CHIBA PREF. – Police on Monday arrested a Laotian on suspicion of trying to export ivory and other items he allegedly took from a Japanese zoo where he worked, in violation of the customs law.
The Chiba Prefectural Police’s Narita International Airport Police Station has not disclosed whether Lam Ouan Khongsavanh, 27, an unemployed Laotian who lived in Susono, Shizuoka Prefecture, admitted to the allegations.
On July 4 last year, the suspect allegedly tried to export to Laos via Vietnam some 220 items, including African elephant ivory, Asian elephant bones and hair, white rhinoceros bones and cheetah teeth, packed in a suitcase and other containers, according to the station and customs authorities.
Most of the items are subject to international trading restrictions under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).
His attempt was detected in an X-ray scanning of his suitcase at the airport.
The suspect worked at Fuji Safari Park, a zoo in Susono, as a keeper from 2015. He collected hair that fell from animals and bones of buried dead animals at the zoo.
Khongsavanh intended to use the items as decorations at his home in Laos and sell them to friends and acquaintances, according to investigative sources.