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Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
District of Nevada

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Reno Man Sentenced For Trafficking Endangered Lion And Leopard Parts

RENO, Nev. – Robert Barkman, of Reno, Nevada, was sentenced today to 60 days of intermittent confinement by the Bureau of Prisons during a one-year term of probation for illegally trafficking parts from endangered African lions and leopards, announced Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark for the Department of Justice’s Environment and Natural Resources Division and U.S. Attorney Nicholas A. Trutanich for the District of Nevada.

Barkman, 51, pleaded guilty Tuesday to a one count information charging him with wildlife trafficking in violation of the Endangered Species Act. U.S. District Judge Robert C. Jones sentenced Barkman to 60 days of intermittent confinement during a one-year term of probation. As part of the terms of his probation, Barkman will be required to perform 100 hours of community service for a wildlife conservation organization, and will not be permitted to work for an organization that handles threatened or endangered species.

In court documents filed in federal court, between March 24, 2016 and April 2, 2016, Barkman admitted to selling and shipping a lion skull and leopard claws to Arongkron Malasukum, a resident of Woodside, New York, for $1,400.  As part of the plea, Barkman further admitted that between January 2016 and October 2016, he received approximately $6,000 for the interstate sale of threatened or endangered wildlife in violation of United States law.

Malasukum previously pleaded guilty and was sentenced in August 2018 for his role in purchasing skulls and other parts from endangered wildlife, and then exporting them to Thailand.  As part of his plea, Malasukum admitted that between April 9, 2015 and June 29, 2016, he exported approximately 68 packages containing skulls, claws, and parts from endangered and protected species, with a total fair market value in excess of $150,000. All of the exports were sent to Thailand.

“This investigation involved the international trafficking of the skulls, teeth, and claws from protected African lions and tigers and depicts just how appalling and widespread wildlife trafficking can be,” said Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the Office of Law Enforcement for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. “I commend our federal partners at the U.S. Attorney's Office for the District of Nevada and the Department of Justice's Environmental Crimes Section in holding this individual accountable for his crime." 

The investigation was handled by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Office of Law Enforcement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Nevada, and the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section. The government is represented by Assistant U.S. Attorney Peter Walkingshaw and Trial Attorney Gary N. Donner of the Justice Department’s Environmental Crimes Section of the Environment and Natural Resources Division.

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Topic(s): 
Wildlife
Component(s): 
Updated January 22, 2020