British Shipping Company Sentenced for Role in Smuggling Scheme
ALEXANDRIA, Va. – A British shipping company pleaded guilty yesterday and was ordered to forfeit $175,000 for smuggling into the United States over 100 undeclared wildlife items, including items protected by the Endangered Species Act and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Keith Foster, 61, of Upperville, operated an antique store in Middleburg known as The Outpost. In December 2018, Foster and his business pleaded guilty to selling items that constituted or contained parts of endangered species and other wildlife illegally imported into the United States. According to court documents, Foster imported the wildlife items through a British shipping company, Thasi Limited, doing business as The British Shop (TBS). TBS employees in England helped Foster hide his wildlife imports from the Fish and Wildlife Service, which included items such as sea turtle shell, sawfish blades, crocodile skin bags, coral, and mounted birds of prey.
Between 2013 and 2018, TBS (on behalf of Foster) shipped from England to the United States at least 35 separate cargo shipments of merchandise for resale at The Outpost, which contained wildlife and wildlife parts of a market value that was more than $250,000 but less than $500,000. The wildlife within those shipments was not properly declared to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service upon import. To conceal the existence of wildlife pieces in the shipments, such wildlife pieces were, at Foster's direction, often labeled by TBS employees in a generic manner that failed to signal the true nature of the items.
G. Zachary Terwilliger, U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, and Edward Grace, Assistant Director of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, made the announcement after sentencing by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema. Assistant U.S. Attorney Gordon D. Kromberg prosecuted the case.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Virginia. Related court documents and information are located on the website of the District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia or on PACER by searching for Case No. 1:19-cr-281.