Skip to main content

Former MN professor to pay $500K after smuggling ivory

  • Author:
  • Updated:
    Original:

A former St. Cloud State University professor has been ordered to pay $500,000 after he admitted to illegally smuggling ivory.

Yiwei Zheng, also known as Steve Zheng, was charged last year for smuggling elephant ivory and illegally exporting rhinoceros horns from the United States to China.

The 43-year-old admitted to the crime in January, and was sentenced Monday, according to a news release.

He was ordered to pay $500,000 into the Lacey Act Reward Fund. The fund is used by the U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reward people who give information about wildlife crimes, as well as help pay the costs of caring for wildlife that's being held as evidence during investigations.

Zheng was also sentenced to serve three years of probation, six weeks of intermittent confinement, and 150 hours of community service.

“Those who engage in this illegal trade create demand, and a market for, the exploitation of endangered species such as black rhinoceros,” Assistant United States Attorney Laura M. Provinzino said in the news release.

Zheng helped to "sustain this illegal market for years," Provinzino added, noting he engaged in more than 300 sales, earning him more than $1 million.

"His profit was earned at the expense of these threatened and endangered species," Provinzino said.

Countries around the world have been working to prevent ivory trafficking and the illegal killing of endangered animals like elephants and rhinos. Last month, Kenya burned a huge ivory stockpile – more than 100 tons, which is equal to the tusks of about 6,700 elephants – in an effort to deter illegal ivory trading, the BBC reports.

Next Up

Screen Shot 2022-09-30 at 4.54.42 PM

Charges: Houston men robbed Edina bank of $110,000

A third suspect has not yet been identified.

Arctic Monkeys

Arctic Monkeys coming to Minnesota for 2023 tour

The rock band hasn't gone on tour in the United States since 2019.

Flickr - Menards store front - Mike Kalasnik

Multiple charges over protests after fatal Menards forklift incident

The charges range from trespassing, destruction of property and assault.

Life Link

Boy airlifted after being struck by driver in Elk River

The boy is reportedly a student at Spectrum High School.

Woodbury mn

Fortune's Top 25 places to live for families includes Woodbury

The media outlet says it analyzed 215,000 data points for almost 2,000 cities and towns across the U.S.

310727248_109188921966444_2076680989484337705_n

Iconic Dangerfield's Restaurant sells, with buyer planning new concept

Dangerfield's Restaurant quietly sold recently after more than 30 years in business.

police lights squad car dark - Unsplash

Charges: Minneapolis shooter photographed 'lifeless' body before fleeing

Charges filed against an accomplice reveal new details about the death of Chante Williams.

Maple grove fire

5 youths are 'persons of interest' in Maple Grove greenhouse fire

Police say it's being investigated as a possible arson.

Dave Hutchinson

Dave Hutchinson has police license suspended for 30 days

The sheriff's suspension will begin on Nov. 22.

minnesota bureau of criminal apprehension - bca

Man with sword, officers who shot him in North Branch identified

The 31-year-old was shot multiple times in the Friday incident.

Related

Minnesota company agrees to pay $500K for for violating California air rules

Birchwood Laboratories Inc., an Eden Prairie-based distributor of various consumer products, has agreed to pay $500,000 to the California Air Pollution Control Fund for violating strict air quality rules, the Sacramento Bee reports. The first of four $125,000 installments was paid in August.