A FORMER Dale Farm traveller has been charged in the United States in connection with an international manhunt into an illegal rhino horn gang.

Michael Slattery, 23, was arrested at Newark Airport in relation to the illegal trade of rhino horns worth £1million, while trying to fly back to London.

He has been charged with trading in prohibited protected species.

Slattery, who also uses an address at the Smithy Fen site, in Cottenham, Cambridgeshire, is due to appear at a bail hearing in Brooklyn, New York. He is accused of illegally selling four rhino horns to a New York buyer in 2010. If found guilty, he faces a maximum jail term of five years, plus a fine of about £120,000.

The arrest is linked to Operation Crash, investigating the illegal trade in the horns and break-ins to steal them and other artefacts at museums across Europe and the UK.

A group of Irish travellers, connected to Dale Farm, is believed to be central to the gang suspected of stealing £30million worth of horns and antiques.

Slattery’s charges come after 20 people were arrested in connection with Operation Crash last week at Dale Farm, Smithy Fen, and other locations across the UK.

Four more people have now been arrested in connection with the operation.

A 30-year-old man and two 17-year-old boys were arrested in London, while a 37-year-old man was arrested in Hull.

All four are being held on suspicion of conspiracy to burgle.

The 20 people arrested last week were bailed until January