- On Tuesday, a Tanzanian court found Yang Feng Glan, 70, guilty of smuggling 860 elephant tusks that authorities say are worth $6.45 million.
A Chinese woman, nicknamed the 'Queen of Ivory' and thought to be one of Africa's most notorious traffickers, has been sentenced to 15 years in prison, Tanzanian authorities told CNN.
On Tuesday, a Tanzanian court found Yang Feng Glan, 70, guilty of smuggling 860 elephant tusks that authorities say are worth $6.45 million.
Yang Feng Glan, was sentenced along with her Tanzanian co-accused Salivius Francis Matembo and Manase Julius Philemon.
They were also sentenced to an additional two years in prison under Tanzania's Wildlife Protection Act, which they can convert into a fine amounting to twice the value of the ivory they are charged with smuggling. Authorities put this value at $12.9 million dollars.
The defendants have already lodged an appeal, the court said.
Tanzania's Director of Public Prosecutions accused Yang of running a sophisticated supply chain between East Africa and China, using her ties to the Chinese and Tanzanian elite to move ivory across the world.
Yang was arrested in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania's largest city, on September 28, 2015, after a year-long manhunt.
After more than three years of uncertainty and delays in the case, conservation organizations say the sentence sends a strong message to traffickers.
"The government is taking wildlife trafficking very seriously," said Krissie Clark the executive director of PAMS Foundation,a nonprofit group that fights crime against wildlife and supported the Tanzanian task-force that arrested Yang.
"Today's sentencing is testament that nobody in Tanzania is above the law."
The landmark ruling marks one of the harshest sentences ever handed down to such a high-profile and well-connected Chinese national living in East Africa.
Tanzanian investigators told CNN Glan came to Tanzania in 1975 as a translator for a Chinese company that was building a railroad linking the port of Dar es Salaam to Zambia. She was one of the first Chinese people to learn fluent Swahili.
According to an interview she gave to the China Daily newspaper in 2014, she quickly fell in love with the country. She even named her daughter Fei, (or Feizhou) the Mandarin character for Africa.