Chinese police arrest 35 people over sale of US$50,000 worth of protected monkeys
Dealer admits to selling 36 macaques to middlemen who sold them on to members of the public for US$1,500 apiece
Police in east China have arrested 35 people for their roles in the trade of macaques, a species that has protected status in the country, according to a state media report.
An investigation was started in July last year after police in Jiangsu province were alerted to a video shared online of people playing with an infant monkey.
In the footage, the owner recommends the services of two agents: a woman named Ma and her boyfriend, who was not identified, CCTV reported on Wednesday.
The agents said they had more macaques for sale, at a price of 10,000 yuan (US$1,500) each, and gave out an address.
Using that information, police traced the couple to a property in the north China province of Hebei and arrested them, the report said.
When questioned, the agents said that in the past six months they had sold 13 macaques to 15 people from seven provinces, and given away another as a gift.
Officers also found two infant monkeys at the couple’s address, the report said.
Ma told police that she decided to start trading in the animals after a video she posted online of herself playing with her pet macaque attracted lots of interest from would-be owners.
She said she bought the monkeys for 8,000 yuan apiece from a dealer in the central China province of Henan, whom police later identified as a man with the surname Bao.
Officers raided Bao’s property earlier this year and took him into custody. The suspect later admitted to selling 36 macaques over the past year, the report said.
At the prices quoted by Ma, that would make the business worth more than US$50,000.
A total of 16 monkeys were rounded up by police and taken to a rescue centre.
A vet there said that most of the animals were just three or four months old and that they were not suitable as pets.