A leading figure of the Taipei Chinese Herbal Apothecary Association is suspected of smuggling banned substances into Taiwan and violating the law governing wildlife protection, the Taipei District Prosecutors Office said Friday.
The association's honorary chairman Lien Chun-ying (???) is believed to have smuggled restricted Chinese medicine materials such as musk (shexiang), rhinoceros horns and bear gall powder, from China for many years via a trading company he set up, according to the office.
Lien's suspected illegal activities include promoting the products in an Internet chat group, claiming they can save lives, and selling them for extremely high prices, charging NT$450,000 (US$14,218) for 37.5 grams of rhino horn powder or NT$30,000 for 37.5 grams of musk.
The prosecutors office estimated that Lien may have earned as much of NT$100 million through the smuggling and illegal sales activity over the past three years.
The office said in a statement that prosecutors and police launched simultaneous raids on Thursday at different locations, including Lien's home and Chinese medicine pharmacies in Taipei, New Taipei and Chiayi.
Several smuggled items were seized during the raids, including 124 parcels of musk, 21 parcels of rhino horn powder, 50 boxes of bear gall powder, and 18 animal horns suspected of being from rhinos, bulls and gazelles, the office said.
After the raids, Lien and 11 other people were summoned for questioning under suspicion violating several laws, including the Smuggling Penalty Act and Wildlife Conservation Act, or as witnesses, according to the prosecutors office.
Lien was later released on NT$1 million bail.
People who violate the Wildlife Conservation Act, under which trading and importing protected wildlife products is illegal, are subject to up to five years in jail.
Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel