KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 9 — The United States (US) extradited an alleged Malaysian wildlife trafficker Teo Boon Ching for illegal wildlife parts operations and money laundering.

Teo, 57, was charged for participating in a conspiracy to traffic in more than 70kg of rhinoceros horns valued at more than US$725,000 (RM3.3 million), according to a statement by the US Department of Justice.

In addition, Teo (with a Datuk Seri title) was charged with laundering the proceeds of his illegal rhinoceros horn sales, it said.

“Teo was charged with one count of conspiracy to commit wildlife trafficking, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, and two counts of money laundering, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison,” the statement said.

Teo was arrested in Thailand on June 29 “at the request of the United States pursuant to our bilateral extradition treaty,” it added.

He was extradited to the US on Friday (Oct 7) to face his charges.

Earlier Friday, Teo and his associated entities were sanctioned by the US Treasury Department Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC).

The statement said Teo was the leader of a transnational criminal enterprise — the “Enterprise” — based in Asia with significant operations in Malaysia and Thailand which engaged in the large-scale international trafficking and smuggling of rhinoceros horns resulting from the poaching of numerous endangered rhinoceros.

“Ching (Teo) served as a specialised smuggler, transporting rhinoceros horns from rhinoceros poaching operations primarily in Africa to the eventual customers primarily in Asia. He also claimed to be able to ship rhinoceros horns to the US,” the statement said. — Bernama