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Department of Justice
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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Irish National Extradited to the United States from Ireland for Trafficking of Rhinoceros Horns

An Irish national who was arrested on Aug. 1, 2019, in Ireland pursuant to an extradition request by the United States, was extradited on May 22 for his role in trafficking horns from black rhinoceros, announced Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division.

On May 13, 2014, a federal grand jury sitting in Waco, Texas, returned an indictment that has since been unsealed, charging John Slattery and a co-defendant, Patrick Sheridan, with conspiring to traffic in horns from black rhinoceros.  In addition to conspiracy, the indictment charges substantive violations of the Lacey Act for wildlife trafficking and making a false wildlife document.  

According to the indictment, Slattery, along with Sheridan and Michael Slattery Jr., used a “straw buyer” to purchase two black rhinoceros horns from a taxidermist in Texas, which the group then transported to New York, where they sold the horns.  In January 2014, Slattery Jr. pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy.  In September 2015, Sheridan was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom.  Sheridan was returned to the Western District of Texas where he pleaded guilty and was also sentenced to 14 months in prison.  In addition to the trafficking, the indictment charges Slattery and Sheridan with making a fictitious and fraudulent bill of sale in connection with the rhinoceros horns, in an attempt to make their illegal purchase of the horns appear legal.

The transport of Slattery to the Western District of Texas to face these charges concluded the extradition process from Ireland, a process governed by an extradition treaty between the United States and Ireland.  Slattery made his initial appearance today in federal court before U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeffrey C. Manske.

The charges contained in the indictment are merely accusations and the defendant is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty in a court of law. 

The case was investigated by agents from U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement. The case is being prosecuted by Trial Attorney Gary N. Donner of the Environment and Natural Resources Division’s Environmental Crimes Section and Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Gloff for the Western District of Texas. The Criminal Division’s Office of International Affairs provided significant support in securing and coordinating Slattery’s arrest and extradition. The Justice Department extends its gratitude to the government of Ireland for its cooperation and assistance.

The year 2020 marks the 150th anniversary of the Department of Justice.  Learn more about the history of our agency at www.Justice.gov/Celebrating150Years.

Topic(s): 
Environment
Wildlife
Press Release Number: 
20-482
Updated May 27, 2020