Rhino Horn Ring Broken Up by Federal Agents

Rhino Horn Ring Broken Up by Federal Agents

Poaching has taken its toll on the black rhinoceros in recent years, with populations dwindling and pushing the species to the brink of extinction. Luckily, federal agents are doing their part to end the black market sale of the rhino's parts.

According to The (Springfield, Ill.) State Journal-Register, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents busted a smuggling ring, which reportedly sold rhino horns for up to $25,000 per pound to Asia, where the rhino's horn is believed to have healing properties.

Called "Operation Crash" -- named after a rhino herd, or "crash" -- the effort outed smugglers across the country and reportedly confiscated millions of dollars worth of cash, gold, diamonds and even Rolex watches.


"We targeted a species that is in extreme peril, really on the brink of extinction," said Tim Santel, resident agent in charge with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service based in Springfield. "We took out a full-court press to save this magnificent animal."


Seven people were arrested within a week, including one suspect who was stopped in a California airport carrying $337,000 in cash. Another suspect, a New York antiques expert named David Hausman, allegedly bought a rhino mount from an undercover officer on Feb. 18 at a truck stop near Peoria, Ill. He was later observed at a motel in Chicago trying to pry the horn off the mount.


The paper reported that search warrants were executed in at least five states by agents from the Fish and Wildlife Service, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Homeland Security. Officials said the reason for the effort is the rise in poaching -- in 2011, 448 rhinos were killed in South Africa, a record high.

The black rhinoceros is listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with an estimated population fewer than 5,000.

Big game hunters were allowed to take rhinos until the 1970s. White rhinoceros populations have risen through the last century, bringing the species back from the brink of extinction. Now listed as "near threatened," white rhinos are still hunted and trophies may be legally brought back to the United States, but laws forbid the sale of the rhino's parts, officials said, adding that selling parts of the animal only drives up the demand for its parts.


In Asia, the rhino's horn is believed to cure a number of ailments, including cancer, and is also used to make dagger handles and ceremonial cups.

Recommended for You

Having just the right amount of lightweight gear can make or break a hunt. Find out the best way to pack for a backcountry trek! Camping

What's In Your Backcountry Pack?

Tracy Breen

Sponsored By
Outdoor Sportsman Group
Craig Boddington picks his top five over-the-counter hunts to add to your bucket list. Adventure

5 Bucket List DIY Hunts

Craig Boddington

Craig Boddington picks his top five over-the-counter hunts to add to your bucket list.

Check out these top choices for building out your reloading bench. Ammo

Roll Your Own: Best Reloading Supplies

David Draper - April 19, 2019

Check out these top choices for building out your reloading bench.

See More Recommendations

Popular Videos

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 16: Cedar Break Bucks

Kevin Steele treks to the cedar breaks and coulees of north-central Nebraska for a shot at a big prairie whitetail.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 13: Forest Buffalo

Craig Boddington returns to Mozambique's fame Coutada 10 for a shot a forest buffalo that's eluded him for 10 years.

2018 Petersen

2018 Petersen's Hunting Episode 10: Snowbound Chamois

Host Brittany Boddington gets more than she bargained for on what turned out to be a grueling, snowbound and extremely physical hunt for chamois in Romania's Carpathian mountains.

See more Popular Videos

Trending Stories

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted positions in the outdoors. Stories

17 Dream Jobs in the Outdoor Industry

Kali Parmley

Dream of a job in the hunting industry? Here's the inside scoop on some of the most coveted...

Many of the states in our glorious nation provide great hunting, but only a few have the whitetail North America

Top 10 Trophy Whitetail States

Joseph von Benedikt - December 18, 2017

Many of the states in our glorious nation provide great hunting, but only a few have the...

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the Hunting

The Ultimate Hunting Trailers

WA Staff

I have never felt that camping trailers at least the "house on wheels" variety that most...

See More Stories

More News

A magnificent male specimen of charismatic megafauna is shot and killed and the public erupts in News

Hunting Without Apology

Thomas McIntyre - October 03, 2016

A magnificent male specimen of charismatic megafauna is shot and killed and the public erupts...

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians. News

The Ticks Making Hunters Allergic to Meat

David Hart

A new wave of allergies threatens to turn hunters into vegetarians.

Mike Fies was home getting ready for Christmas when his boss called. A woman not far from Fies' News

Ghost Cats: Eastern Cougars Don't Exist!

David Hart - October 24, 2016

Mike Fies was home getting ready for Christmas when his boss called. A woman not far from...

See More News

GET THE MAGAZINE Subscribe & Save.

Temporary Price Reduction.

SUBSCRIBE NOW

Give a Gift   |   Subscriber Services

PREVIEW THIS MONTH'S ISSUE

GET THE NEWSLETTER Join the List and Never Miss a Thing.