French officials seize largest ever illegal shipment of turtleshells from Haiti
PARIS – Airport officials in France seized nearly half a ton of tortoiseshells from the endangered Hawksbill sea turtles, found in cargo from Haiti.
The shells, from an estimated 380 turtles weighed 496 kilogrammes have a total street value of more than US$350 000.
According to police reports, the illegal cargo was discovered packed inside 15 cartons sent by air freight from Haiti to Vietnam, in transit through Charles De Gaulle airport.
“Tortoiseshell traffic is up 16.5 per cent,” said the customers service in announcing the seizure of the contraband last week.
“In the long term, looting poses risks to the survival of the species – these scales are especially used in the crafts and to embellish furniture,” the French government said in a release.
Authorities say the tortoiseshells are used to make jewellery sold on the black market.
The capture and trade of Hawksbill sea turtles, as well as products derived from them, is outlawed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. (CMC)