The 11-count indictment alleges that Lokua and Mujangi worked with a middleman to smuggle four packages into the United States. In August and September, 2020, the defendants sent three shipments containing a total of about 49 pounds of ivory by air freight to Seattle. In May 2021, they sent another package with approximately five pounds of rhinoceros horn. At the same time, the defendants conspired to conduct large transactions via ocean freight, offering the buyer more than two tons of elephant ivory, one ton of pangolin scales, and multiple intact rhinoceros horns. On Nov. 2, they arrived in Washington State to negotiate the details of such a deal and were arrested in Edmonds.
The arrests and indictment are part of “Operation Kuluna,” an international operation conducted between the Office of Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) in Seattle, the Government of the DRC, and the U.S. Embassy in Kinshasa, DRC. The investigation is ongoing – immediately after the arrests, the task force in DRC acted on information provided by HSI-Seattle to seize 2,067 pounds of ivory and 75 pounds of pangolin scales in Kinshasa worth approximately $3.5 million, all contraband related to wildlife trafficking.