News and Press Releases

SELLER OF ANHINGA FEATHERS SENTENCED FOR VIOLATIONS OF MIGRATORY BIRD ACT

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 16, 2011

Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, and Nicholas E. Chavez, Special Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, Southwest Region, announce today’s sentencing of defendant Clemente N. DiMuro Jr., 56, of Miami, Florida. U.S. District Judge Cecilia M. Altonaga sentenced DiMuro to time served, six months of home detention, 1 year of supervised release, and 250 hours community service for selling and offering to sell migratory bird parts in violation of the Migratory Bird Treaty Act (MBTA). In addition, he is prohibited from hunting, fishing, or trapping while on supervised release and must surrender any such licenses. DiMuro Jr. had pleaded guilty to the charge on June 3, 2011.

DiMuro Jr. admitted by his plea that from January 30, 2009 through February 5, 2009, he sold and offered to sell parts of anhingas, a migratory bird protected under the MBTA. Anhingas, sometimes called snakebirds or waterbirds, are found in the Everglades as well as in southern swamps and shallow waters.

Pursuant to the MBTA, the Secretary of the Interior maintains a list of migratory birds which are protected from, among other things, being killed, sold, bartered, transported or possessed, except as otherwise permitted by federal regulation. Enrolled members of federally recognized American Indian tribes may obtain permits to possess eagle and other migratory bird feathers and parts for religious and ceremonial purposes, but federal law strictly prohibits the sale of migratory birds, feathers, or their parts by any person. DiMuro Jr. is not an enrolled member of a federally recognized American Indian tribe.

According to court documents, DiMuro Jr. communicated via MySpace with an individual in Utah and supplied that individual on multiple occasions with anhinga feathers which the Utah individual subsequently sold to others including a special agent of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service who covertly purchased two sets of anhinga tail feathers. In a December 19, 2008 MySpace message to the Utah individual, DiMuro Jr. explained that the anhingas were “hard to get out of the water before the gators get them.” In March 2009, DiMuro Jr.’s MySpace home page listed his occupation as “FEATHER MAN.” Evidence documenting DiMuro Jr.’s sales of anhinga feathers to the Utah individual was obtained when a federal search warrant was executed at the Utah individual’s home on March 11, 2009.

U.S. Attorney Wifredo Ferrer of the Southern District of Florida stated, “Anhingas are a common sight in South Florida and the Everglades, and we want to keep it that way. Accordingly, our office will continue to vigorously enforce federal environmental laws designed to protect our migratory birds and wildlife.”

“The illegal commercialization of migratory bird feathers jeopardizes our nation’s protected bird species,” said Ignacia S. Moreno, Assistant Attorney General of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “This prosecution underscores our commitment to put an end to the black market trade in federally protected migratory bird species, and to do our part to preserve these species for future generations.”

Nicholas Chavez, Special Agent in Charge of the Southwest Region of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, stated, “The ongoing issue of the black market feather trade is nothing new, yet the use of modern technology, such as the internet and cell phone texting, makes the illegal trade more wide spread and increases the complexity of our investigations in our mission to protect wildlife. Still, we remain firm in our resolve to vigorously investigate and enforce our nation’s wildlife laws.”

This case resulted from an investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement into the illegal commercialization of eagles and other migratory birds protected by federal law. The investigation was jointly conducted with the Navajo Nation Department of Fish and Wildlife. The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Watts-FitzGerald of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of Florida and Senior Trial Attorney Georgiann Cerese of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section.

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A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.

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