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Woman Caught Selling Endangered Seahorse Pills

Wednesday 3rd September 2014

A Chinese medicine trader has been fined for selling sexual enhancement pills that contained extracts from an endangered species.

A seahorse. Stock image

The pills were spotted by Detective Constable Louise Morris, of the MPS Wildlife Crime Unit, as she was walking through the Elephant and Castle Shopping Centre on her way to work in July 2013.

DS Morris suspected that 46-year-old Mongolian national Lu Yao’s stall might be offering illegal products and an investigation was launched.

Search warrants were executed at the stall and a shop owned by Yao, on Deptford High Street.

They seized approximately 100 pills. The ingredients of the products were translated from Chinese and it was discovered that the pills contained extracts of seahorse, which is protected under the Convention on the International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES). CITES protects more than 5,600 animals and 30,000 plants.

Yao has pleaded guilty to five counts of purchasing/offering to purchase/sell/keep for sale species protected under CITES.

She was sentenced to £200 fine for each product, £85 prosecution costs and £100 victim surcharge - a total of £1,185.

DC Sarah Bailey, of the MPS Wildlife Crime Unit, said: "Most traditional Chinese medicines are generally legal, but Yao’s contained extracts of a protected species. The illegal trade in endangered species threatens the existence of some of our most iconic and well-loved animals and plants. We continue to work closely with the Chinese medicine industry to tackle this issue. I also urge anyone who has suspicions about products they have seen on sale I to contact the police."


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