By Rhishja Cota-Larson
California residents Vinh Chung “Jimmy” Kha and Felix Kha have pleaded guilty to charges of conspiracy, smuggling, Lacey Act violations, money laundering and tax fraud for their roles in the international illegal trafficking of rhino horn. The pair was arrested in February 2012 as part of “Operation Crash”, a multi-agency crackdown on the illegal rhino horn trade in the United States, which dismantled a ring of criminals who were smuggling rhino horn to China and Vietnam.
“The Khas conspired to violate numerous federal laws, including those enacted by Congress to protect endangered species like the rhinoceros, a species that faces extinction in our time,” said Assistant Attorney General Ignacia S. Moreno.
Both defendants stated that they purchased the horns in order to export them overseas to be sold and made into libation cups or traditional medicine. Both acknowledged making payments to Vietnamese customs officials to ensure clearance of horn shipments sent to that country. In addition, Jimmy and Felix Kha each admitted to failing to pay income tax owed in 2009 and 2010.
Win Lee Corp., owned by Jimmy Kha, pleaded guilty to two felony counts of smuggling and Lacey Act trafficking and faces fines up to $1 million.
Jimmy and Felix Kha each pleaded guilty to:
- One count of conspiracy — maximum penalty of five years in prison
- One count of smuggling goods from the United States — maximum penalty of ten years in prison
- One count of Lacey Act trafficking — maximum penalty of five years in prison
- One count of money laundering — maximum penalty of twenty years in prison
- One count of tax evasion — maximum penalty of five years in prison
Jimmy and Felix Kha are scheduled to be sentenced on December 10th, 2012. More....