US says two Congolese admit smuggling ivory

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Two Congolese nationals arrested and indicted in the US last year for trafficking ivory, rhino horn and pangolin scales have pleaded guilty to the charges, the US Department of Justice has said.

Herdade Lokua, 34, and Jospin Mujangi, 32, were indicted last November on 11 counts related to trafficking wildlife from the Democratic Republic of Congo to Seattle in the US.

“In pleading guilty, both defendants admitted that beginning in November 2019, they agreed to smuggle elephant ivory, white rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales to the United States,” the justice department said in a statement.

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They are alleged to have worked with a middleman to smuggle three packages of ivory tusks cut into pieces and labelled as wood.

A “similar scheme” was used to send rhino horn, the justice department added.

The sentencing is due on 1 November.

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