Monkey breeding facility, Vanny Bio Research (Cambodia) Corporation Ltd, which has been indicted by the US Justice Department, has denied allegations of smuggling long-tailed macaques into the United States.
Eight people, including two Cambodian officials, have been charged with conspiracy to smuggle crab-eating monkeys into America, as one senior official was enroute to an international conference about illegal trade in endangered species, the Justice Department said on November 16.
Masphal Kry, 46, Deputy Director of the Department of Wildlife and Biodiversity for the Cambodian Forestry Administration, Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries, was arrested on November 16 at John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York, which resulted in the unsealing of the indictment, the Department said.
Indictments were also laid against six associates: James Man Sang Lau, 64, Dickson Lau, 29, Sunny Chan, Raphael Cheung Man, 71, Sarah Yeung, and Hing Ip Chung, 61, of Vanny Bio Research (Cambodia) Corporation Ltd, of smuggling and conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act.
If convicted, each defendant faces up to five years in prison on the charge of conspiracy in count one, and up to 20 years imprisonment on each of the smuggling charges in counts two through eight. There also are potential fines with respect to each count of up to $250,000, or twice the defendants’ financial gain.
In a statement on Monday, Vanny Bio Research (Cambodia) Corporation Ltd confirmed it is aware of the charges.
“The company strongly denies any wrongdoing(s) in the operation of its business,” the statement said.
Vanny Bio Research (Cambodia) Corporation Ltd added that it has been breeding and exporting captive bred long tailed macaques since 2005 for scientific and academic research.
The statement said as well as complying with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s (CITES) principles and application law, “we have a set of stringent internal control and monitoring measures to ensure our animals are bred and raised in humane conditions that conforms to international standards and the rest of animal care.”
Dith Tina, Minister of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, said in a tweet on Sunday that monkey export figures from Cambodia in 2020 totalled 22,594 and were conducted with respect to Cambodian law and CITES convention.
Total exports to the USA was 17,821 and total exports by Vanny Bio Research (Cambodia) to the USA was 12,978.
“None of the shipments have been returned for any reason,” Tina tweeted. In respect to CITES convention, even “annoying” monkeys, such as those that plague Wat Phnom, are not to be exported, he said, adding that they can be extracted to make newborns at the farms.
“Only next generations can be exported, and most of the time for medical research,” he added.
In a statement on Monday, US Embassy spokesperson, Stephanie Arzate, said the United States is a leader in the global fight against the illicit trade in wildlife and views the trafficking of protected wildlife as a threat to good governance and rule of law while destabilizing the environment.
“The United States values its cooperation with Cambodia on areas of mutual interest, including efforts to combat wildlife trafficking,” Arzate wrote in an email to Kiripost.