News and Press Releases

Citizen of Australia and Canada Pleads Guilty to Violating the Endangered Species Act

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 21, 2011

ALBUQUERQUE – United States Attorney Kenneth J. Gonzales announced that, this morning, Margaret-Ann Dion, 58, entered a guilty plea to a one-count misdemeanor indictment charging her with violating the Endangered Species Act by (ESA) unlawfully possessing seven tusks of narwhal whales.  Dion is a citizen of Australia and Canada who maintained a residence in Santa Fe from 1981 through 2010, and lived in Santa Fe from March 1981 to February 2007.  She entered her guilty plea under a plea agreement with the United States Attorney’s Office.  The United States District Court sentenced Dion to a one-year term of unsupervised probation.  Under the terms of her plea agreement, Dion will forfeit the narwhal tusks.

The misdemeanor indictment to which Dion entered her guilty plea alleged that, on June 22, 2010, Dion knowingly possessed seven tusks of narwhal whales that had been illegally traded and imported in violation of the ESA and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).  The ESA, CITES and other regulations require that all wildlife, including marine animals, be declared to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service at the port of first arrival in the United States and that all importers file a declaration of importation at or before the time of importation. The indictment alleges that Dion purchased seven narwhal tusks in Canada in the late 1980s; that thereafter the tusks were illegally imported into the United States; and that Dion unlawfully possessed the tusks in her Santa Fe residence.

In her plea agreement, Dion admitted that in June 2010 she possessed the seven narwhal tusks in her Santa Fe residence knowing that they were imported illegally into the United States.

Assistant United States Attorney George C. Kraehe prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.  The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for its scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service.   The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service works cooperatively with the American public to continue the conservation legacy of America’s great outdoors.  For more information on the work of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov.
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