Zurich airport customs officials seized 262 kilograms (578 pounds) of elephant ivory transported by three Chinese men, according to the Associated Press. The ivory was originally taken from Tanzania and is believed to have come from up to 50 elephants.
Found during a July 6 security check, the contraband was packed into eight suitcases and was headed for China, according to CNN. Altogether, the value on the black market for this illegal ivory is estimated at 400,000 Swiss Francs or $411,000.
To fit into the eight suitcases, the elephant tusks were sawed into 172 pieces, according to the AP.
After finding the ivory, the three men were temporarily detained and questioned. Charges vary, but these men could face steep fines for violating customs and animal protection rules, according to the AP. On top of the ivory, officials also found 1 kilogram of lion fangs and claws.
The U.S. and China are two of the biggest countries to blame for the high demand of illegally poached tusks, according to CBS News.
"In China, a small amount of ivory can go for $1,300 — a pair of tusks can go for $20,000. It depends on what stage — it's cheaper when sold to a middle man. Carved, it can sell for tens of thousands of dollars," said Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, according to CBS News.
The demand for ivory continues to grow as an estimated 35,000 elephants are poached every year, according to CNN.