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Press Release

New Hampshire Man Sentenced For Trafficking In Protected Wildlife

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

BOSTON - A New Hampshire man was sentenced today in federal court in Boston for illegally trafficking live water monitor lizards from the Philippines.

Derrick Semedo, 26, of Nashua, N.H., was sentenced by Senior U.S. District Court Judge Douglas P. Woodlock to two years of probation and 120 hours of community service. In April 2019, Semedo pleaded guilty to one count of trafficking in monitor lizards that were exported illegally from the Philippines.

Semedo admitted to illegally importing more than 20 live water monitor lizards from the Philippines between March and December 2016, in violation of United States law and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) Treaty. To avoid detection by United States customs authorities, the lizards were placed in socks, which were sealed closed with tape, and then concealed in the back panels of audio speakers or other electronic equipment. The equipment was then shipped via commercial carriers to Semedo in Massachusetts. The customs declarations accompanying the shipments identified their contents as audio speakers or similar electronics.

As part of his plea, Semedo admitted that he knew the monitor lizards he received had been taken in violation of Philippine law, and that the import violated United States law. Semedo also admitted that upon receiving the monitor lizards, he sold some of them to customers, including customers in Colorado, Connecticut, and New Hampshire.  

United States Attorney Andrew E. Lelling; Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark, of the Department of Justice’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division; and Ryan Noel, Special Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Region Five office, made the announcement today. The Philippines’ National Bureau of Investigations provided valuable assistance with the investigation. Assistant U.S. Attorney Seth B. Kosto of Lelling’s Criminal Division and Trial Attorneys Gary Donner and Erica Pencak of the Justice Department’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division prosecuted the case. 

Updated August 15, 2019