Have you heard of Operation Crash? Did you know there’s a market (albeit a black-market) for rhinoceros' horns? There’s also a U.S. task force that began in 2011 led by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service who partnered with the U.S. Justice Department to detect, deter, and prosecute those engaged in the illegal killing of rhinoceros and the unlawful trafficking of rhinoceros horns.
Besides the United States, over 183 countries signed a treaty to protect fish, wildlife, and plants that are or may become imperiled because of the demands in international markets.
Collectors of rhino horns, a.k.a hunting trophies, purchase them to be used as drink cups or aphrodisiac powder made from ground horns. Endangered, Black Rhino cups can sell for half-million dollars. A raw horn can make the poacher between $20,000-$29,000 per pound (in 2018).
One of the special investigation supervisors said,
“Once we started looking into it [rhino horn sales], we realized it was a big crisis.”
The transaction took place in a Las Vegas hotel room. Two men awaited their windfall. Instead of the $55,000 the sellers expected for the sale of two black rhino horns, the undercover officer arrested the two men.
One seller pleaded guilty to conspiracy to violate the Lacey and Endangered Species Act. The court sentenced him to one year in prison and a $10,000 fine.
The other seller went to trial. A jury found him guilty of the same charge. The court sentenced him to over two years in prison, three years of supervised release, and prohibited him from attending wildlife and antique sales.
Source: U.S. Court of Appeals, U.S. Department of Justice, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, National Association of Conservation Law Enforcement Chiefs