Fifty-five pieces of rhino horn were found encased inside shipments of plaster at Hanoi international airport, the Vietnamese authorities reported on Sunday, in the latest bust against sophisticated global wildlife traffickers.
The Southeast Asian nation is both an end destination and transit point for multibillion-dollar smuggling operations of animal parts, including many endangered species.
The 125-kilogram haul was discovered in a suspicious shipment of plaster casts on Thursday but it took half a day to smash the blocks apart, the police told AFP.
Images released to the media showed large and small pieces of rhino horns displayed on a table while police used rods to break them free.
The blocks had been shipped from United Arab Emirates, in carefully disguised cargo that had that arrived on an Etihad Airways flight, the customs department said in a statement. It was not immediately clear where the shipment had originated from.
Rhino horn is especially prized in China and Vietnam, the two top consumer markets, where one kilogram can fetch up to $60,000. That would make the entire haul worth $7,500,000 (£6m).
According to TRAFFIC, a campaign group against wildlife trafficking, the last decade has seen an explosion of demand for rhino horns, driving unprecedented levels of poaching that has sent rhino populations into crisis despite a ban on the trade since the 1970s.