AChinesebusinessman has admitted to seven charges of selling endangered species online after pangolin scales, dried seahorses and rare plants were found in his home.
Operating from his home in Corby, Northamptonshire, Lei Zheng sold more than 30,000 medicinal remedies from his accounts on eBay and Amazon. However, he piqued the interests of authorities when PC Chloe Gillies saw '100% deer musk’ for sale for £69.97 in 2018.
Deer musk is more expensive than gold by weight, and is believed to be a cure for illnesses of the heart and chest within traditional Chinese medicine.
When police raided the 54-year-old Zheng’s properties in Corby, they found numerous rare items such rare orchids and ginseng of the desert.
Mr Zhen received 120 hours of community service and a six month jail term, suspended for 21 months, after he was found to be selling illegal animal products online.
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Northampton Crown Court heard that the businessman had a “very healthy turnover”, with Judge David Herbert saying: "You were running a busy business and you should have been aware of the status of these items."
Pangolin scales have no proven medicinal value and yet were trafficked an estimated 195,000 times in 2019, largely due to their popularity for traditional Chinese medicine to treat a range of illnesses.
Bags of dried seahorses were also found at Mr Zheng’s property, with the marine animal said to help cure male impotence. The businessman’s barrister Simon Hunka told the court that his client was a family man and was remorseful for his actions.
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Mr Hunka said: “It's been hanging over him for five years. He's a worrier by nature and he's been concerned as to what might happen for many months.”
While Mr Zheng’s jail term may have been suspended, he still faces a proceeds of crime act hearing into whether he should be financially penalised for his actions. This is scheduled to take place in December.
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