Tanzania court sentences ‘Ivory Queen’ to 15 years in prison for trafficking elephant tusks

A Tanzanian court sentenced a Chinese woman who was known as the “Queen of Ivory” to 15 years in prison for smuggling the tusks from hundreds of elephants to Asia, CNN reports.

Yang Feng Glan was reportedly handed the sentence on Tuesday after she was found guilty of smuggling nearly $6.45 million worth of tusks.

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Yang had lived in Tanzania since the 1970s and was previously secretary general of the China-Africa Business Council of Tanzania, the network noted, adding that she was also the owner of a popular restaurant in Dar es Salaam.

According to CNN, Yang was convicted along with two other Tanzanian men of leading an organized criminal gang. The two men, Salivius Francis Matembo and Manase Julius Philemon, were also reportedly handed a 15-year-sentence.

The network also reported that two years were added to their sentences under Tanzania's Wildlife Protection Act, which allows the time to be converted into a fine that would total $12.9 million.

The court confirmed to CNN that the defendants are now seeking an appeal. 

Glan, who was initially charged in October 2015, was accused of smuggling 860 pieces of ivory between 2000 and 2004, according to The New York Times. Glan denied the charges at the time.

Prosecutors said Yang sought to “organize, manage and finance a criminal racket by collecting, transporting or exporting and selling government trophies” that allegedly weighed over two tons, according to court documents seen by the Times.

The report comes several years after two Chinese men were reportedly handed a 35-year sentence in prison for also smuggling ivory in Tanzania in March 2016. The year before, four other Chinese men were sentenced to 20 years in prison each for also smuggling rhino horns, according to the Times.