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Efforts to Combat Wildlife Trafficking at the Department of Justice
Sea Turtle. Photo credit: NOAA
Illegal Importation of Protected 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. Several others 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.

United States v. Patty Chen (N.D. Calif., S.D. Fla.): On May 9, 2014, Patty Chen was sentenced to serve a three-year term of probation and to pay $29,760 in restitution to the Lacey Act Reward Fund after previously pleading guilty to false statement and Lacey Act violations for illegally importing wildlife products (including shark fins, shark fin noodles, sea horses, dried conch, dried fish, and eel maw) into the United States from Ecuador. These items have been valued at nearly $30,000. In November 2009 and October 2011, Chen illegally brought wildlife into the United States by falsifying customs documentation, denying that she had any wildlife in her possession.



Texas Man Pleads Guilty to Falsifying a Wildlife Document Related to the Sale of Horns from a Black Rhino - March 26, 2015

Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden Delivers Remarks at the Kasane Conference on the Illegal Wildlife Trade - March 25, 2015

Canadian Antiques Dealer Sentenced to 30 Months in Prison for Smuggling Rhinoceros Horns, Elephant Ivory and Coral - March 25, 2015

Presidential Task Force Releases Implementation Plan for the National Strategy for Combating Wildlife Trafficking - February 11, 2015

Auction House and Company’s President Plead Guilty to Wildlife Smuggling Conspiracy - Wednesday, January 14, 2015

New Jersey Man Sentenced to 33 Months in Prison for Trafficking in Illegally-Imported Narwhal Tusks and Money Laundering - Monday, January 12, 2015

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


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


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


Last Updated: March 2015