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Rhino what you did Irishman sentenced to three years for €13m rhino horns and ivory tusks smuggling plot

A man described as his brother Richard Riley (35) was given a one-year sentence while two other Rathkealers Edward Gammel (33) and Daniel McCarthy (29) were given suspended one-year sentences.

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Horns from endangered black rhinos taken from Rathkeale Rovers gang member Michael Slattery who was jailed in 2015. Photo: AP

Horns from endangered black rhinos taken from Rathkeale Rovers gang member Michael Slattery who was jailed in 2015. Photo: AP

Horns from endangered black rhinos taken from Rathkeale Rovers gang member Michael Slattery who was jailed in 2015. Photo: AP

AN Irishman has been sentenced to three years prison in France this week after being convicted for leading a plot to smuggle rhino horns and ivory tusks out of the country.  

Tom Greene (33) along with three other men described as being “Rathkeale Rovers” were found guilty of their roles in a plot to traffic €13 million worth of horns and tusks to the Chinese and Vietnamese market.

The public prosecutor who had described Greene as a hunter without a rifle and the sales rep of the gang had demanded a six-year sentence be imposed.

A man described as his brother Richard Riley (35) was given a one-year sentence while two other Rathkealers Edward Gammel (33) and Daniel McCarthy (29) were given suspended one-year sentences.

All four Irish men were convicted in their absence and warrants issued for their arrests.

A Chinese businessman David Ta (51) was given two years for his part in exporting the horns and tusks.

Photos in Mr Ta's phone had enabled investigators to count 62 tusks that passed through his company between November 2015 and April 2016.

Three other Chinese men were also convicted for their parts in the smuggling ring including one described as Greene’s biggest customer.

Customs fines of up to €200,000 were also imposed on all eight defendants while a ninth man, a tour guide, had the case against him dropped.

French prosecutors started their investigation after a random motorway traffic inspection by police in September 2015 that led to the discovery of several elephant tusks and €32,800 euros in a BMW.

The occupants of the car, who claimed they were antique dealers, were the members of the Rathkeale Rovers with addresses in the UK and Ireland.

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French police also discovered that ivory and rhino horn were being turned into powder and flakes on French soil before being exported to Vietnam and China where they are used in traditional medicine.

One large horn weighed nearly 15 kilos was seized during the investigation, which would have been worth €13 million according to environmental group Robin des Bois.

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