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Irish National Sentenced in US for Rhino Horn Trafficking

  • VOA News

FILE - Rhino horns are pictured in this undated handout photo courtesy of the U.S. attorney's office, District of New Jersey.

A federal judge in Waco, Texas, sentenced an Irish national to a year in prison Wednesday for trafficking in banned black rhinoceros horns.

British agents, action on a U.S. warrant, arrested Patrick Sheridan at the Welsh seaport of Holyhead last year and extradited him to the United States.

Sheridan and two other suspects illegally bought rhino horns in Texas through a "straw buyer" — someone who makes a purchase for a client — and resold the horns in New York. Sheridan also used false documents to try to hide the illegal purchase.

One of the other suspects was sentenced to more than a year in prison in 2014.

The suspects were arrested as part of a nationwide crackdown on illegal rhino horn buys called "Operation Crash."

Assistant Attorney General John Cruden said the demand for rhino horns is one factor bringing the animal to the edge of extinction.

"We will hold wildlife traffickers fully accountable for their crimes which are, transaction by transaction, robbing from our children and grandchildren the great diversity of life on our planet," Cruden said.

Many people in China and Vietnam believe rhinoceros horns have valuable medicinal effect, even though experts say that as a medicine and aphrodisiac, rhino horns are worthless.