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Press Release

Rapid City Man Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy to Commit Wildlife Trafficking

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

United States Attorney Ron Parsons announced Troy Fairbanks, age 56, of Rapid City, South Dakota, appeared before Magistrate Judge Daneta Wollmann on December 6, 2019, and pleaded guilty to an Indictment that charged him with Conspiracy to Commit Wildlife Trafficking.       

The maximum penalty upon conviction is 5 years in custody and/or a $250,000 fine, 3 years of supervised release, a $100 special assessment, and restitution.   

Fairbanks conspired with his sons and other individuals to traffic in wildlife—specifically, bald and golden eagles, various species of hawks, and fifteen other bird species—and parts of those birds.  Fairbanks, the owner/operator of a Native American dance business called Buffalo Dreamers, bought, sold, traded, and bartered eagles and hawks and their parts on numerous occasions between July 17, 2014, and February 11, 2016.  Fairbanks sold and traded hundreds of eagle feathers, as well as eagle wings, eagle heads, eagle claws, raptor claws, hawk feathers, and parts from other CITES I protected birds.  Testing of carcasses and parts recovered after a search warrant conducted at Fairbanks’s home revealed at least 112 eagles and/or parts thereof passed through his home during the transactions he conducted there.

The investigation was conducted by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service.  The case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Eric Kelderman and Meghan Dilges.

A presentence investigation was ordered and a sentencing date was set for May 4, 2020.  The defendant was released on bond pending sentencing.

Updated December 12, 2019