By Chris Bucktin
Drug gangs are making a new fortune – by smuggling body parts of endangered animals into Britain.
The sick trade is netting crime bosses £100 million a year, second only to drug trafficking in profitability.
Customs officers have seized 80 tonnes of rare species parts in just three years concealed in ship containers, vans, luggage and plane cargo.
The 100,000 items included lions’ paws and gorilla feet, elephant ivory and a snow leopard and a whole polar bear skin.
Impounded rhino horn alone was worth over £1 million.
It can now can fetch £40,000 per kilo – more than diamonds or cocaine.
Nearly 3,400 live endangered animals have been discovered including drugged baby leopards, chimpanzees, Indian Star tortoises and a cheetah.
Exotic pet owners and collectors are buying over the internet, ebay and Facebook.
There is also a huge demand for Chinese ‘miracle cures’ in the UK which use exotic animal body parts.
Interpol says the UK is now a major centre for wildlife crime which is worth £12 billion worldwide - making it the second biggest global blackmarket, behind the illegal drug trade. More....