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Press Release

Meadview Man Sentenced to Prison for Drug Sales, Theft of Government Property, and International Smuggling of Federally- Protected Cacti

For Immediate Release
U.S. Attorney's Office, District of Arizona

     PHOENIX – On April 29, 2019, William Starr Schwartz, 54, of Meadview, Ariz., was sentenced by U.S. District Judge Steven P. Logan to 24 months’ imprisonment, to be followed by three years of supervised release.  Schwartz was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $22,655 to the National Fish and Wildlife Foundation, a charitable and nonprofit corporation established to further the conservation and management of fish, wildlife, plants, and other natural resources.  Schwartz had previously pleaded guilty to possession with intent to distribute methamphetamine, theft of government property, smuggling cacti from the United States, and Lacey Act false labeling charges. 

     Between approximately Oct. 1, 2014 and Aug. 22, 2018, Schwartz stole, and directed others to steal for him, in excess of 500 federally-protected cactus plants from the Lake Mead National Recreation Area in Arizona.  Schwartz sold the stolen cacti through the Internet, and illegally shipped the cacti from Meadview to more than 20 countries throughout the world.  During a search warrant conducted on Schwartz’s residence in August 2018, numerous stolen cacti were recovered by law enforcement agents.  Additionally, methamphetamine and related drug paraphernalia were found.

     The United States Fish and Wildlife Service, with assistance from the National Park Service and the United States Postal Inspection Service, conducted the investigation.  The prosecution was handled by Paul Stearns, Assistant U.S. Attorney, District of Arizona.


CASE NUMBER:           CR-18-08333-SPL

RELEASE NUMBER:    2019-057_Schwartz


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Updated April 30, 2019

Press Release Number: 2019-057_Schwartz / CR-18-08333-SPL