Elephant ivory is used for decorative purposes. Photo: iStock

Authorities in Uganda detained two Vietnamese men after they were suspected of being involved in smuggling pangolin scales and ivory.

Nguyen Van Thanh and Dinh Van Chung were detained by the Uganda Revenue Authority (URA) Customs Enforcement Intelligence at Entebbe International Airport just as they were about to board their flight, VN Express reported.

The pair are suspected of belonging to a group of 18 men from Vietnam involved in smuggling ivory pieces and pangolin scales. Ugandan authorities had been tracking the group for weeks.

Photos of the suspects were shared by the URA, which said all the suspects were wanted. Ugandan police seized an illegal cargo in early February reported to be worth at least US$8 million. The contraband was hidden in timber logs and was said to have originated in Congo and passed through South Sudan before arriving in Uganda.

According to the URA, the two were trying to flee the country when they were arrested. The ring is believed to have been operating in Uganda in the last three years.

While Vietnam made the trade of ivory illegal in 1992, the country is still a top market for ivory goods. They are largely used for decorations and are also used in traditional remedies.

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