Rhino traffic transits through Cherbourg

13 Apr 2015

John Slattery, a member of Rathkeale Rovers (Rathkeale vagrants), was arrested on 6 April 2015 in the port of Cherbourg by the border police. He was landing from a car ferry arriving from Ireland. He was subject of an international arrest warrant. He is in custody for a period of 60 days, the time for justice of the United States to transmit its request for extradition.

The Rathkeale Rovers come from a community of people originating from Rathkeale in Limerick County in Ireland. They are sought by Europol and police worldwide. They specialize in theft, receiving stolen goods and illegal sale of antiquities. They are suspected of having participated in several rhino horn thefts from European museums. A horn of 8 kg was stolen from the Museum of Natural History of Rouen (Normandy) in March 2011. The neighboring Museum of Le Havre was also robbed but the stolen horn was in resin, as museum curators had, as a precaution, removed the authentic horn from the exposed trophy.

John Slattery is suspected of being an accomplice for his brother Michael Slattery sentenced to 14 months in prison by a court in Brooklyn (New York, USA). The case concerned an illegal transaction of black rhino horns between a taxidermist of Texas, the Slattery brothers and co, and a Chinese antique dealer living in New York charged with smuggling horns into China.

The horns (4.985 kg) were seized by the US Fish and Wildlife Service as part of “Operation Crash“ to dismantle networks of illegal trafficking of rhino horns from the United States. “Crash“ is the common name of a rhino herd. On the Asian market, the 4 horns would reach a value of € 205,000.

Illegal trafficking of rhino horn has taken alarming proportions in 5 years. Rhinos in Africa and Asia are threatened with extinction due to poaching. Rhino horns are wrongly considered to have anti-cancer and aphrodisiac. Analyses show that they are made of keratin just like the the human species nails.

Defended by powerful lawyers, protected by countless homonyms within their clan, their apparent insolvency and mobility, Rathkeale Rovers often manage to slip from justice nets. In this regard, the case of John Slattery is exemplary. It will show the will of the French justice department to fight uncompromisingly the international wildlife crime network.





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