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Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking at the Department of Justice
Sea Turtle. Photo credit: NOAA
Illegal Importation of Endangered Species
United States v. Nathaniel Swanson, (W.D. Wash.): On January 24 and 17, 2014, Cheuk Yin Ko, Nathaniel Swanson, and Tak Ming Tsang were sentenced after previously pleading guilty to conspiracy to smuggle various turtle and reptile species from the United States.  Working with two foreign nationals residing in the United States, including Tsang, Swanson illegally exported species including Eastern box turtles, North American wood turtles, and ornate box turtles to buyers located in Hong Kong.  Swanson also was involved in importing several protected species from Hong Kong, including black-breasted leaf turtles, Chinese striped-necked turtles, big-headed turtles, fly river turtles, and an Arakan forest turtle.  The Arakan forest turtle is critically endangered, having once been presumed extinct.  The illegal trafficking spanned approximately four years.
As part of the sentencing, Ko was ordered to forfeit almost 150 reptiles, including 40 eastern box turtles, ten ball pythons, four Gila monsters, and one boa constrictor.  Ka Ho Cheng, Toni Ngai, and Leung Yan Fai remain under indictment.  Animals that survived and were seized by law enforcement have been receiving care from wildlife rehabilitation centers and local zoos.

Swanson will serve one year and one day of incarceration, followed by three years’ supervised release.  Tsang and Ko will serve six and five months’ incarceration, respectively.  Tsang also will be subject to two years’ supervised release.  All three defendants were held jointly and severally liable for $28,583 in restitution to be paid as follows:  $16,029 to the Sarvey Wildlife Care Center and $12,554 to the Woodland Park Zoo.  http://www.justice.gov/usao/waw/press/2014/January/swanson.html

United States v. Enrique Gomez De Molina, (S.D. Fla.): From 2009 to 2011, Enrique Gomez De Molina illegally imported parts of protected wildlife from Southeast Asia to the United States in violation of the Lacey Act.  Among the illegal shipments De Molina procured were cobras, pangolins, hornbills, babirusa (a species of pig), orangutans, Java kingfishers, and a Slow Loris. De Molina pleaded guilty to a Lacey Act violation for smuggling wildlife and was sentenced to serve 20 months’ incarceration, followed by a one-year term of supervised release, a $6,000 fine, and ordered to forfeit all of the smuggled wildlife in his possession.  www.justice.gov/opa/pr/2012/March/12-enrd-276.html

 

WILDLIFE TRAFFICKING NEWS

Two Florida Reptile Dealers Sentenced to Prison for Conspiring and Trafficking in Protected Reptiles - Monday, December 8, 2014

Canadian Antiques Dealer Pleads Guilty in Manhattan Federal Court to Attempted Wildlife Smuggling - Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Colorado Big Game Hunting Outfitter Sentenced to More Than Two Years for Role in Illegal Mountain Lion and Bobcat Hunts - Friday, November 21, 2014

Owners of Safari Company Indicted for Illegal Rhino Hunts - Thursday, October 23, 2014

Big Game Hunting Outfitter Pleads Guilty to Felony Conspiracy Charge in Connection with Illegal Mountain Lion and Bobcat Hunting Activities - Friday, August 15, 2014

Big Game Hunting Guide Pleads Guilty to Felony Conspiracy Charge in Connection with Colorado Outfitter’s Illegal Mountain Lion and Bobcat Hunting Activities - Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Canadian Antique Dealer Charged with Trafficking Wildlife - Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Long Island Fish Dealer Pleads Guilty to Fraud, Falsifying Federal Records, and Lacey Act Violations - July 16, 2014

Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Rhino and Ivory Smuggling Conspiracy - Tuesdsay, June 24, 2014

Ringleader of International Rhino Smuggling Conspiracy Sentenced in New Jersey to 70 Months in Prison for Wildlife Trafficking Crimes - Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Acting Assistant Attorney General Dreher Remarks for District of Columbia Bar Association Panel on U.S. Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking. Washington, DC - Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Brooklyn Fish Dealer Pleads Guilty to Wire Fraud - Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Two California Men Indicted for Selling Endangered Black Rhinoceros Horns - Wednesday, April 2, 2014

National Task Force on Wildlife Trafficking and Interpol Officials to Mark World Wildlife Day - Thursday, February 27, 2014

Narwhal Tusk Trafficker Convicted of Conspiracy and Money Laundering - Friday, February 14, 2014

Tropical Fish Importer Pleads Guilty in New York Federal Court to Piranha Import Violations - Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Irish National Sentenced to Serve 14 Months in Prison for Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horns - Friday, January 10, 2014

2013

Antiques Dealer Sentenced To 37 Months In Prison For Wildlife Smuggling - Thursday, December 5, 2013

Smuggling Ring Sentenced in Los Angeles for Criminal Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horn - Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Antiques Dealer Sentenced in New York City for Crimes Relating to Illegal Trafficking of Endangered Rhinoceros Horns - Thursday, February 14, 2013

2012

Federal Officials Announce Nationwide Crackdown on Black Market Rhino Trade - Thursday, February 23, 2012

 

Last Updated: December 2014