Traditional Chinese medicine importer receives 18 months sentence

    TORONTO, Sept. 13 /CNW Telbec/ - In a precedent-setting case,
Cheung-Hon (Oliver) Mok received an 18-month sentence after pleading guilty
Monday in the Ontario Court of Justice - Criminal Division to illegally
importing traditional Chinese medicines containing derivatives of endangered
animals and plants.
    Mr. Mok, 46, of Richmond Hill, Ontario was also ordered to serve a
two-year period of probation and must obey stringent court-ordered reporting
conditions aimed at ensuring his compliance with Canada's federal endangered
species legislation. The conditional sentence consists of house arrest for
nine months and then curfew for nine months.
    The penalty reflected the level of endangerment of the species involved,
the commercial nature of his activities and his previous convictions on two
counts for similar offences handed down in the Ontario Court of Justice -
Provincial Division in December 2003.
    The items seized by Environment Canada included turtle and tortoise
shells, orchids and orchid derivatives and coral, all derived from endangered
species protected by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered
Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). CITES import and export permits were
required to be issued by Canadian and Hong Kong authorities prior to the
import of these goods into Canada. No such permits were obtained.
    Environment Canada's investigation established that between April 2004
and September 2006, Mr. Mok used several companies located in the
Greater Toronto Area to receive traditional Chinese medicines manufactured
using endangered species and illegally imported into Canada from Hong Kong.
These medicines were initially detected by officers in Vancouver and
subsequently seized as evidence.

    Environment Canada is responsible for the enforcement of wildlife
legislation regarding plants and animals. CITES is an international agreement
to protect plant and animal species from extinction. CITES regulates
international trade in endangered plant and animal species as well as species
that may become endangered if trade is not regulated. Canada is a member of
CITES and implements the Convention in Canada through the Wild Animal and
Plant Protection and Regulation of International and Interprovincial Trade

    (Egalement offert en français)

For further information:

For further information: Gary Colgan, Director, Wildlife Enforcement
Division, Environment Canada, (905) 319-6960; Jack Saunders, Communications
Advisor/Media Relations, Environment Canada - Ontario, (416) 739-4785

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