US Dep’t of Justice Indicts Multiple Individuals Involved in Transport of Endangered Monkeys

A Maleth-Aero flight lands in Hong Kong.
Dltl2010, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

LONDON – The US Department of Justice has indicted multiple individuals alleged to be involved in a smuggling ring which supplied wild-caught endangered long-tailed macaque monkeys from Cambodia to US laboratories.

The list of those standing accused includes Cambodian government officials as well as parties involved in the facilitation of the transport of over one thousand long-tailed macaques. The conservation status of the species was recently upgraded to ‘endangered’ by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES)

The monkeys were shipped via airfreight with two air operators. The recent indictment follows tireless investigation work by US animal rights group PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, who followed up multiple information sources and data provided by whistleblowers.

PETA statement

PETA’s primate scientist Dr Lisa Jones-Engel welcomed the news of the indictments, saying: “PETA applauds the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and other authorities for today’s announcement that a multiyear investigation has revealed alleged rampant criminal activity, including the laundering of wild-caught macaques who were exported and then illegally sold to companies in the U.S.”

“We hope those arrested will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and if convicted prevented from ever coming near a monkey again.”

“During the last decade, at least 100,000 long-tailed macaques were taken from the forests and protected areas of Cambodia or confined to filthy, disease-ridden monkey farms to be sold for exportation to the U.S. and other countries for use in laboratory experiments.”

“The exploitation of these monkeys has been so catastrophic that recently, the conservation status of long-tailed macaques was elevated to endangered.”

“The alleged false labeling of these monkeys as “captive-bred” is a crime that appears to be enabled by greedy American animal experimenters, who refuse to admit that their studies are killing monkeys, failing to help humans, and decimating wild populations.”

Air transport Cambodia – US

The importation of 1,080 long-tailed macaques from Cambodia into the U.S. was carried out by two air operators – Chinese carrier Hainan Airlines (CHH), and Maleth-AELF airlines, a global ACMI and charter air operator.

Neither of the two air carriers involved appeared to possess a valid USDA registration to transport the monkeys, and in Octover, PETA requested that the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service investigate whether these airlines and the companies they supply—Envigo and Orient BioResource Center—had violated the Lacey Act.

AviationSource previously reported on the two air shipments, which firstly involved a shipment of 720 endangered monkeys by Hainan Airlines in August.  

That air consignment was then followed by a September movement of 360 monkeys from Cambodia to Houston by Maleth Aero, which was acquired by AELF Flight Service LLC in 2021.

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