Rhino horn trafficking bust nets pro rodeo champion Wade Steffen

April 13 2012 


The face of a live sedated chain-sawed, “faceless” rhino. (http://soiledearth.com)

LONG BEACH, Calif.–Rhino horn trafficking and rodeo intersected in February 2012 with the arrest of 2010 All-American ProRodeo Finals steer wrestling co-champion Wade Steffen, 32, in Hico, Texas, along with alleged California co-conspirators Jimmy Kha, 49, Mai Nguyen, 41, Kha’s son Felix, 26, and Jin Zhao Feng, a Chinese citizen who allegedly arranged the transport of the horns to China.

Steffen, the Khas, and Nguyen were charged with rhino horn trafficking in violation of the Endangered Species Act and the Lacey Act. The Lacey Act prohibits interstate traffic in protected species.

Steffen, his wife Molly, and his mother Merrily Steffen “were stopped by Transportation Security Administration officials at Long Beach Airport on February 9, 2012 with $337,000 in their carry-on luggage,” reported Kenneth R. Weiss of the Los Angeles Times. Photos retrieved from a camera carried by Merrily Steffen included images of “$100 bills bound with rubber bands” and “rhino horns being weighed on scales,” according to the arrest warrant for Wade Steffen. Molly and Merrily Steffen were not arrested.

Click here to read entire article at the great magazine Animal People.

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