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October 22, 2019

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8 held for Madagascar tortoise racket

Eight people suspected of illegally buying and selling radiated tortoises, an endangered species from Madagascar, have been caught, Shanghai police said yesterday.

Police in Xuhui District said they began an investigation in December last year after a report that radiated tortoises were being sold online at 4,000 yuan (US$566) to 10,000 yuan.

Police found that the source of the tortoises was a man surnamed Xu living in the Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region. He is said to have claimed to have channels to smuggle tortoises from abroad.

A man surnamed Huang in Ningbo, Zhejiang Province, contacted Xu via WeChat and bought tortoises in October 2018, police said.

Police said the tortoises were then sold by Huang to a man surnamed Yuan in Huizhou, Guangdong Province, who paid over 200,000 yuan for them.

Yuan is alleged to have sold tortoises for over 400,000 yuan since 2018.

When the suspects were caught, police also seized 53 unsold radiated tortoises, which had been handed to Shanghai Zoo to be cared for.

There are no legal radiated tortoise farms in China, and any animals here have been smuggled, police said. The offense carries a penalty of more than 10 years in jail.


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