By Fred Shuster
A father and son are expected to be sentenced to federal prison terms today for their roles in the illegal trafficking of South African rhinoceros horns in a case brought as part of a nationwide crackdown on the black market in endangered animal parts.
Vinh Chuong "Jimmy" Kha, 50, and Felix Kha, 27, both of Garden Grove, each pleaded guilty in Los Angeles last year to five felony counts -- conspiracy, smuggling, wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act, money laundering and tax evasion -- stemming from the smuggling conspiracy, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
A third defendant -- Win Lee Corp., a Westminster company owned by Jimmy Kha -- pleaded guilty to smuggling and wildlife trafficking and is also scheduled to be sentenced today.
Federal prosecutors are asking U.S. District Judge Christina A. Snyder to sentence Jimmy Kha to almost five years behind bars and his son to nearly six years, and order them to each pay $100,000 in fines. The government is also requesting that the Win Lee Corp. be fined $100,800 over a five-year period of probation.
"It is unconscionable that a species as ancient and majestic as the African Black Rhino has been hunted to the brink of extinction by unscrupulous profiteers," U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said after the men pleaded guilty.
"The rhino horn smuggling ring, dismantled by `Operation Crash,' contributed to the soaring increase in the trade of rhino horns both domestically and internationally, and this illegal trade leads directly to increased poaching of the species in the wild," he said. More....