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Lhasa customs seize bulky smuggled goods

(Xinhua)

13:30, March 30, 2012

LHASA, March 30 (Xinhua) -- Customs officers in Tibet's capital of Lhasa seized smuggled goods worth more than 41 million yuan last year, including drugs, pangolin carcasses, ivory and pashmina wool harvested from endangered Tibetan antelopes.

One of the largest cases involved 100.56 kg of cannabis resin, a psychoactive substance similar to marijuana, a Lhasa customs official said Friday.

The resin was seized on March 22, 2011 after being smuggled into Lhasa from Nepal and consigned to Shenzhen, a southern boom city near Hong Kong, said Wang Wenxi, chief of Lhasa customs.

"(The case) allowed police to bust a cross-border drug smuggling ring," he said, adding that Lhasa customs authorities have played a vital role in fighting smuggling and maintaining market order.

In addition to illegal drugs, customs officers seized 5.4 kg of pangolin carcasses, a protected species destined to be sold to medicine dealers, as well as 72.25 kg of ivory and 267.7 kg of pashmina, a type of ultra-soft cashmere made from the fleece of Tibetan antelopes, Wang said.

After receiving a tip stating that three bags of Tibetan antelope cashmere were to be smuggled through the Zham Port to Nepal around the end of last August, Lhasa customs officials organized a task force to investigate cargo being shuttled through the port and finally intercepted the contraband on Sept. 13.

One suspect was arrested on the spot.

The endangered Tibetan antelope, which is under first-class state protection in China, largely inhabits northwestern Qinghai-Tibet Plateau. Boasting softness and warmth, Tibetan antelope cashmere products are coveted luxury items but are banned in many countries around the world.

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