A haul of frozen tiger carcasses found in a car in Hanoi has led to the arrest of a key wildlife trafficking suspect, Vietnamese state media said Friday, as the country tries to tackle a well-worn smuggling route from Laos.
Nguyen Huu Hue, who is believed to have smuggled animals in from neighbouring Laos for years, was arrested Thursday with two other people after seven dead tigers were discovered in their vehicle at a parking lot, according to Cong An Nhan Dan newspaper.
“Hue set up a company… which sells building material as a cover for the illegal trading of tigers and wildlife,” Cong An Nhan Dan, the official mouthpiece of the Ministry of Public Security, reported.
All seven tigers appeared to be cubs, according to photos of the seizure.
It was not immediately clear if the dead tigers had come from the wild or from the many illegal tiger farms in Laos, which supply much of Asia’s demand for tiger meat and parts.
Police have previously busted several other members of the same wildlife trafficking ring, which has been running for several years from a central province which shares a border with Laos.
Vietnam is both a consumption hub and popular smuggling route for illegal wildlife — from tigers to elephant tusks, pangolins and rhino horn.
Some of it is destined for domestic consumption in Vietnam, while the rest is smuggled on to China.
Tiger parts are used for traditional medicine or jewelry in Vietnam, where the once-large population of the endangered cats has dwindled dramatically.
Their bones are commonly boiled down and mixed with rice wine to make an elixir believed to treat arthritis and promote strength.
The smugglers’ arrest in Hanoi follows a record seizure in Singapore this week of nearly nine tonnes of ivory and a huge stash of pangolin scales destined for Vietnam.
Hanoi has long vowed to crack down on the illegal wildlife trade, though conservationists say the black market persists thanks to weak law enforcement.
WATCH: AOC dunks on GOP for ‘beclowning themselves’ during Trump’s impeachment
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) blasted her Republican colleagues on national TV on Friday.
Ocasio-Cortez, also known as AOC, is the youngest woman ever elected to the House of Representatives. She was interviewed on MSNBC's "All In" by anchor Chris Hayes.
"Midway through today's impeachment inquiry, the president was accused of witness tampering," Hayes noted. "One of the sharpest rejoinders came from Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez."
The host read her tweet to the live studio audience.
— Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (@AOC) November 15, 2019
‘The worst day of the presidency so far for Donald Trump’: Advisor to four presidents
President Donald Trump has not had a worse day in office than he suffered on Friday, according to a top former White House advisor.
David Gergen served in the administrations of Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan and Bill Clinton. He was interviewed Friday night by CNN's Anderson Cooper.
"If you are looking to throw somebody under the bus, Gordon Sondland would probably be a prime candidate to be next in line to be thrown under the bus," Cooper said.
"I think the president will wait patiently to see what he says and then decide," Gergen replied.
He then offered his analysis of the situation.
Chris Hayes breaks down the ‘busy day in the criminal chronicles of one President Donald J. Trump’
MSNBC anchor Chris Hayes connected the dots between all of the bombshell news that was reported Friday in the impeachment hearings into President Donald Trump.
"Good God, today has been ten days and this week has been ten weeks," Hayes said. "And there are a million things happening at once."
"Just in the past couple of hours, for instance, we just got this incredibly incriminating and damning behind closed doors testimony from a U.S. foreign service officer that was still supposed to be kind of like the B-story today, the sideshow," he explained. "It's a guy who works in the U.S. embassy in Ukraine, a guy named David Holmes. He testified behind closed doors that he could hear president Trump talking on the phone to the U.S. Ambassador to the European Union who was an inaugural donor, and they were in a restaurant in Kiev and the president was shouting so loudly on the phone that [Gordon] Sondland had to hold the phone away from his ear because it was hurting his eardrum, so then everyone could hear."