Skip to main content

St. Cloud professor charged with smuggling ivory and rhino horns to China

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A St. Cloud State University professor has been charged with smuggling elephant ivory and rhinoceros horns into China.

Yiwei Zheng, a philosophy professor living in St. Cloud, was charged with six federal counts in U.S. District Court on Tuesday, which the Associated Press reports includes charges of smuggling and of making false statements to agents.

KSTP reports that authorities allege Zheng – who is originally from China but now has U.S. citizenship – exported protected items into his native country from the U.S. He also allegedly worked with co-conspirators to import items containing ivory or rhino horn into the U.S.

Elephant ivory and rhinoceros horn cannot be exported from the U.S. without the express approval of the federal government, KSTP adds, as they are protected under the convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.

The Star Tribune reports that Zheng has taught at the university since 1999 and that he was arrested Tuesday morning at a restaurant in St. Cloud.

Agents claim he initially told them he had sold horns to a man he met at McDonald's. But authorities allege he was found to have been exporting the horns to someone in China, the newspaper notes.

Illicit goods made with ivory or rhino horn have high value in China and other Asian countries, with Quartz reporting that the price of rhino horn at the end of 2013 was anywhere between $21,000 and $27,000 per pound.

KSTP notes that Zheng is expected to be released on an unsecured bond on Tuesday. He has been ordered not to leave the country and to hand over his passport.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-12-04 at 9.16.52 AM

Responding to Twitter release, former Minnesota GOP candidate calls for 'bullets'

It was in response to a thread on Twitter concerning the social media giant's moderation efforts regarding political issues.

snow

NWS: 'Safe to say' more active weather is ahead

Three rounds of light snow around Minnesota before more substantial precipitation becomes a possibility.

7F060B54-5776-4E1A-A42C-F36C22FAF493

Hero dad who stopped carjacker who fled with his kids identified

A GoFundMe has been set up to support Derek Gotchie and his family following the incident.

Screen Shot 2022-12-03 at 4.35.18 PM

Watch: New London-Spicer wins 3A championship on incredible walk-off TD

New London-Spicer defeated the unbeaten Dilworth-Glyndon-Felton in remarkable circumstances.

MoorheadMurderSuspect

Suspect in woman's killing in Moorhead is arrested

James Kollie Jr. was arrested Friday evening.

Jennifer Carnahan

Former chair Jennifer Carnahan sues Minnesota GOP, which is suing her back

Carnahan stepped down under a cloud of controversy in August 2021.

Minneapolis Fire Department

One injured after leaping from burning vacant building in Minneapolis

Authorities say the building is known to be used by squatters.

ambulance

Head-on crash leaves two drivers dead in southeastern Minnesota

The crash happened in Houston County just before 4 p.m. Friday.

ConellHarris

Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.

image

FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.

Related