WASHINGTON, D.C. – Kevin M. McMaster—formerly of Port St. Lucie, Florida—was sentenced to 25 months in prison and three years of supervised release for selling and offering to sell in interstate commerce more than $200,000 worth of endangered species in violation of the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act (ESA), the Department of Justice announced today. U.S. District Court Judge Donald Graham, who imposed the sentence in this matter, found that the defendant was unable to pay any fine.
McMaster—former operator of a website known as DEADZOO.com and Exotic & Unique Gifts, a Port St. Lucie business— pleaded guilty on January 26, 2006 to a criminal information charging him with two felony Lacey Act violations and two misdemeanor ESA violations. The Lacey Act prohibits the transportation of endangered and threatened wildlife that was knowingly sold in violation of any federal wildlife-related regulation or law. Under the ESA it unlawful to offer for sale or to sell in interstate commerce any endangered or threatened species of wildlife.
McMaster admitted by his plea that during 2003 and 2004, he offered for sale or sold in interstate commerce more than $200,000 worth of endangered species including tiger, snow leopard and jaguar skins as well as a gorilla skull and baby tiger mounts. The investigation began in November 2003 after a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agent received an unsolicited e-mail message from McMaster offering “cat skins” for sale. The agent eventually purchased tiger, snow leopard and two leopard skins from the defendant. A search conducted at McMaster’s home in Florida on December 15, 2004 revealed evidence of additional offers and sales of endangered species which were made by McMaster to customers throughout the country.
“Illegal Internet sales of endangered species are a growing threat to protected wildlife,” said David M. Uhlmann, Chief of the Environmental Crimes Section of the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The sentence imposed in this case, and others like it, should help us deter trafficking in rare and endangered wildlife.”
This investigation was conducted by special agents from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement. 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 Trial Attorney Georgiann Cerese of the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, Environmental Crimes Section.