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3 Filipino tourists with dried shark fins, seahorses in luggage jailed 18 months

11 January 2021

By Vir B. Lumicao 

Some of the seahorses found in the tourists' luggage

Three Filipino male tourists were sentenced today, Jan. 11, to 18 months in jail after being convicted of bringing a huge amount of dried shark fins and seahorses into Hong Kong in August 2019.

Hong Kong regulates the trade in endangered species under the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance (Cap 586).

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Jomar Goron, Aldrin Jay Lacuesta and Michael Roy Marcelino, aged between 22 and 38 years old, were sentenced by District Court Judge Eddie Yip, who presided over their four-day trial starting Dec 1 last year and found them guilty on Dec 15.

Goron, Lacuesta and Marcelino, who were said to be frequent travelers to Hong Kong, had pleaded not guilty to the charges. Their lawyers said the accused did not know what was in their luggage as they were just paid to deliver the goods here.

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They were tried more than a year after their arrest on Aug 23, 2019 by Customs and Excise officers at the Hong Kong International Airport upon their arrival from Manila with 180 kilos of dried shark fins and 500 grams of dried seahorses.

The prosecution said during Customs clearance, the batch of suspected scheduled dried shark fins and dried seahorses was found packed in 25 boxes that the three had checked in.

Shark's fin is a precious commodity in Hong Kong 

The prosecution of the case was handled by the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department.

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Goron and Lacuesta were charged with “importing specimens of Appendix II species otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of the ordinance”, referring to the Protection of Endangered Species of Animals and Plants Ordinance, for the shark fins.

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Marcelino was charged with “importing specimens of Appendix II species otherwise than in accordance with the provisions of section 11 of Cap.586” for the dried seahorses. 

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