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Friday, August 21, 2015

California Man Pleads Guilty to the Sale of Horns from a Black Rhinoceros

Lumsden W. Quan, 47, an art dealer from San Francisco, California, pleaded guilty today to conspiracy to violate the Lacey and Endangered Species Act and to a violation of the Lacey Act for knowingly selling black rhinoceros horns to an undercover agent from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).  His co-defendant, Edward N. Levine, charged in the indictment remains scheduled for trial on Oct. 19, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada.

The guilty plea was announced by Assistant Attorney General John C. Cruden for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, U.S. Attorney Daniel G. Bogden for the District of Nevada and Director Dan Ashe for USFWS.

Quan pleaded guilty before the Honorable Chief Judge Gloria M. Navarro in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Nevada, to all charges in the indictment. He is scheduled to be sentenced on Dec. 3, 2015. Quan was identified as part of “Operation Crash,” a nationwide effort led by the USFWS and the Justice Department to investigate and prosecute those involved in the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species.

Quan admitted in federal court to conspiring with co-defendant Levine to sell two black rhinoceros horns to an undercover agent posing as a Colorado wildlife collector.  Quan stated that he and Levine arranged to have the horns transported to Las Vegas, where on March 19, 2014, Quan sold them to the agent for $55,000.  Quan faces a maximum sentence of five-years imprisonment.

The black rhinoceros is an herbivore species of prehistoric origin and one of the largest remaining mega-fauna on earth.  They have no known predators other than humans.  All species of rhinoceros are protected under U.S. and international law, including the Endangered Species Act.  Since 1976, trade in rhinoceros horn has been regulated under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), a treaty signed by over 170 countries around the world to protect fish, wildlife and plants that are or may become imperiled due to the demands of international markets.

The investigation is continuing and is being handled by the USFWS’s Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section.  The government is represented by Trial Attorneys Jennifer Blackwell and Ryan Connors, Assistant U.S. Attorney Kathryn Newman, and paralegal Amanda Backer.

Press Release Number: 
Updated August 21, 2015