Chinese police seize turtle products, arrest 19 in black market crackdown
- Endangered reptiles in demand as good luck tokens
- Jewellery shop owner named as operation kingpin
Police in southeast China have seized turtle products with a combined street value of more than 1 million yuan (US$144,000) and arrested 19 people for killing and selling the endangered animals.
Officers from Donghai county, Jiangsu province confiscated 20 turtle specimens, as well as dozens of accessories made out of turtle shell, including pens, glasses and bracelets, according to news portal Jschina.com.cn.
The animals are believed to bring good luck and turtle specimens have become a decorative item in many Chinese homes, in addition to the popularity of accessories made from turtle shell.
According to the report, a man surnamed Xu, from Qionghai, in the southern island province of Hainan, caught the sea turtles and supplied the specimens to a jewellery shop owner surnamed Yang, said to be the kingpin of the operation.
The 19 suspects are said to come from eight mainland provinces and municipalities.
Turtles are protected under Chinese law and there have been several recent cases of police action against the illegal trade.
In July last year, police in Fangchenggang, in the southern Guangxi region, seized 38 turtle specimens, although it is unclear how many arrests were made.
A big turtle specimen can fetch 20,000 yuan (US$2,800) while a small one is worth 10,000 yuan on China’s black market.