HANGZHOU, June 7 (Xinhua) -- Thirty-two people in east China's Zhejiang Province have been sentenced to up to 13 years in prison for trafficking endangered animals.
They were found guilty of trafficking 100 million yuan's (15.2 million U.S. dollars) worth of wildlife, including pangolins, bear claws and salamanders, in 10 provinces and cities, announced the Yongjia County People's Court on Tuesday.
At a court hearing, a main culprit surnamed Kan was given a prison term of 13 years and fined 130,000 yuan. Four were sentenced to over 10 years in prison and Kan's wife was given six years in prison.
The rest were sentenced to suspended prison terms of between four months and three years.
More than 10 of the defendants are owners of restaurants and clubs who bought the animal parts and processed them as food, the court said.
Local police uncovered the case last year as they seized more than 1,500 wild animals in a raid.
Pangolins, which are under second-class state protection in China, are often smuggled because their meat is considered a delicacy and their scales are believed to be effective in treating skin and other diseases.
Under China's Criminal Law, those who illegally catch, kill, buy or sell endangered wild animals on the state's protection list may face more than 10 years in prison plus fines.