January 19, 2004

Illegal importer of medicines derived from at-risk species fined nearly $22K

MISSISSAUGA, ONT-Penalties totalling $21,875 were handed down to Cheung Hon (Oliver) Mok after he pleaded guilty to two charges under federal legislation of illegally importing traditional Chinese medicines containing derivatives of endangered animals and plants from Hong Kong, Mok was charged under section 6(2) of the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade Act (WAPPRIITA). An investigation by Environment Canada's Canadian Wildlife Service enforcement officers found that between February 2001 and August 2003, the Scarborough, Ontario resident used seven addresses and three separate aliases within the Greater Toronto Area to receive illegal traditional Chinese medicines from Hong Kong. The medicines seized included musk deer and orchid derivatives, which are protected under the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). Under the law, a CITES export permit should have been issued by Hong Kong authorities prior to the import of these substances into Canada. Mok was ordered to pay a fine of $17,500 plus the mandatory victim surcharge of $4,375. The illegal trade of traditional Chinese medicines containing endangered species throughout the world is considered to be a serious conservation issue. The traditional Chinese medicine market is estimated to be worth between $6 and $20 billion (legal and illegal) throughout both Asia and the rapidly expanding Asian communities of North America.
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