'This is the biggest frozen rare wild-animal smuggling case ever discovered,' said Senior Lieutenant Colonel Nguyen Hong Thai, deputy head of the police environment department.

Thai said his department on Friday seized the carcasses of eight Asian golden cats, two clouded leopards, one king cobra and 15 kilograms of deer antlers.

Asian golden cats and clouded leopards are on the red list of threatened species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.

Police detained Tran Thi Duong, 37. The woman said she planned to sell the the animals to a producer of wild animal paste.

Police said they expected to find more rare animal remains, as the suspect was believed to have been involved in additional trafficking operations.

Illegal trafficking in tigers, monkeys and other rare animals is widespread in Vietnam and China, where their bones and other body parts are often used in traditional medicine.

A kilogram of pure bone paste from tigers or panthers can sell for up to 5,000 dollars on the black market.

Last month, Vietnamese police seized about 600 kilograms of rare-animal bones, including tiger and elephant bones, in Hanoi.

Under Vietnamese law, hunting or trading in rare animals is punishable by a prison term of up to seven years and a fine of up to 20 million dong (1,250 dollars).

Deutsche Presse Agentur - October 19, 2010