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Press Release

Sacramento County Resident Indicted For Illegally Exporting Turtles To Hong Kong

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

SAN JOSE - A federal grand jury indicted Keri Zhang Wang with smuggling wildlife from the United States and false labeling of exports, announced United States Attorney David L. Anderson and United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement Special Agent in Charge Daniel Crum. 

The indictment was filed October 21 and unsealed earlier today.  According to the indictment, Zhang Wang, 21, of Elk Grove, Calif., smuggled at least eleven packages containing box turtles and map turtles from California to Hong Kong between September 13, 2016, and June 2019.  Box turtles and map turtles are protected under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, an international treaty to which the United States and Hong Kong are signatories.  The treaty is enforced in the United States under the Endangered Species Act, 16 U.S.C. § 1531, et seq.

The indictment alleges that Zhang Wang did not have the required permits to export the turtles from the United States.   Zhang Wang allegedly secured each turtle inside a sock so that its movement was restrained, hindering each turtle’s ability to make noise and concealing its presence in each package.  She then allegedly placed each turtle in a shoebox with packing materials and placed the shoebox under bags of snacks and chips for shipping.  The indictment further alleges that Zhang Wang labeled each package but did not label the packages as containing turtles, nor did she obtain a permit to export the turtles or declare them to a U.S. official upon shipping.  

In sum, Zhang Wang was charged with four counts of smuggling goods from the United States, in violation of 18 U.S.C. § 554, and four counts of Lacey Act false labeling, in violation of 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d)(2) and 3373(d)(3)(A)(i).  

Zhang Wang is scheduled to make her initial appearance in federal court in the Northern District of California on October 29, 2019, in San Jose.

An indictment merely alleges that crimes have been committed, and all defendants are presumed innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.  If convicted, Zhang Wang faces a maximum sentence of ten years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the 18 U.S.C. § 554 violation and a maximum sentence of five years’ imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 for the 16 U.S.C. §§ 3372(d) and 3373(d)(3)(A)(i) violation.  In addition, the court may order the defendant to serve an additional period of supervised release and restitution, if appropriate.  However, any sentence following conviction would be imposed by the court after consideration of the U.S. Sentencing Guidelines and the federal statute governing the imposition of a sentence, 18 U.S.C. § 3553.  

Assistant U.S. Attorney Maia Perez is prosecuting the case.  The prosecution is the result of an investigation by the United States Fish and Wildlife Service Office of Law Enforcement.

Updated October 23, 2019