Texas rodeo cowboy accused of trafficking in rhino horns

Fort Worth Star-TelegramFebruary 24, 2012 

A professional rodeo cowboy from Hico who also breaks and trains camels is sitting in a Waco jail awaiting transfer to California, where he faces federal charges of trafficking in rhinoceros horns for the illicit Asian folk-medicine market.

Wade Steffen, 32, who hasn't wrestled steers since being attacked by a camel in March, is one of seven people arrested in four states since Saturday in "Operation Crash," an 18-month investigation named after the term for a group of rhinos.

More arrests are likely, said Ed Grace, deputy chief of law enforcement at the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. "This is an ongoing investigation," he said.

Among those detained was a Chinese businessman who was picked up when he arrived in Los Angeles on Wednesday night.

Another key figure is Jimmy Kha, owner of a California trading company. Kha, his girlfriend and his adult son are accused of using a porcelain-importing company and a Vietnamese nail salon as fronts for receiving and shipping black rhino horns over the past three years, according to a federal affidavit appended to a criminal complaint.

Authorities have seized 37 rhino horns, $1 million in cash and $1 million in gold ingots, Grace said.

Read the complete story at star-telegram.com

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