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Man, Son Plead Guilty To Smuggling Rhino Horns

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LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — A Garden Grove man and his son plead guilty Friday to smuggling rhinoceros horns into the country and face five felony charges.

Vinh Chung “Jimmy” Kha, 49, and Felix Kha, 26, were charged with conspiracy, smuggling, wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act, money laundering and tax evasion, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.

Prosecutors also charged Win Lee Corp., a Westminster-based company owned by Jimmy Kha, in the smuggling conspiracy.

“It is unconscionable that a species as ancient and majestic as the African Black Rhino has been hunted to the brink of extinction by unscrupulous profiteers,” U.S. Attorney Andre Birotte Jr. said.

“The rhino horn smuggling ring, dismantled by `Operation Crash,’ contributed to the soaring increase in
the trade of rhino horns both domestically and internationally, and this illegal trade leads directly to increased poaching of the species in the wild.”

The Khas admitted to purchasing the horns, knowing the animals were protected by federal law as
endangered and threatened species, to export them overseas. The horns are often used for traditional medicine or to make libation cups.

The Khas also acknowledged paying off Vietnamese customs officials to make sure the horns cleared security.

Two other defendants linked to the Khas — Jin Zhao Feng, 45, of China, and Jarrod Wade Steffen, 32, of Hico, Texas — previously pleaded guilty in Los Angeles federal court to charges related to rhino horn trafficking.

The father and son are scheduled to be sentenced Dec. 10.

(©2012 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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