Florida Keys Resident Sentenced for Illegally Trafficking in Marine Life
Wifredo A. Ferrer, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Florida, Tracey Dunn, Assistant Director, NOAA Fisheries Office of Law Enforcement, and David Pharo, Resident Agent in Charge, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement, Miami Office, announced that Charles R. Jamison, 75, of Little Torch Key, Florida, was sentenced today in Key West for conspiring with others to commit certain offenses against the United States, that is conspiracy to transport, sell, receive, acquire, and purchase any fish and wildlife, that is juvenile bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo), with a fair market value in excess of $350.00, and attempt to do the same, knowing that said fish were taken, possessed, transported, sold, and intended to be sold in violation of the laws and regulations of the State of Florida, in violation of Title 16, United States Code, Sections 3372(a)(2)(A), 3372(a)(4)and 3373(d)(1) and (2), all in violation of Title 18, United States Code, Section 371.
United States District Court Judge Jose Martinez sentenced Jamison to a term of probation of 18 months, a criminal fine of $2,000, and imposed a special condition precluding Jamison from engaging in the marine wildlife industry during the period of probation. The Court also ordered the forfeiture of Jamison’s vessel, engine, trailer, tackle, and gear used in the commission of the Lacey Act violations.
According to the allegations of the Information filed against him, a Joint Factual Statement filed by the parties, and statements in court, Jamison was a resident of Monroe County, active for many years in the harvest and sale of bonnethead sharks (Sphyrna tiburo). At no time did Jamison, directly or as a third party contractor, possess or hold any State of Florida special activities license to collect, harvest, or transport any shark species, nor did he possess and hold a valid federal annual vessel permit for sharks issued pursuant to 50 C.F.R. 635.4 to harvest, collect, or take shark species as required by the laws of the State of Florida.
The Information further alleges that between approximately June 2012 and October 2012, at Monroe County, Jamison and others known to the U.S. Attorney’s Office, harvested bonnethead sharks from Florida state waters in the Florida Keys, thereafter negotiating the purchase, sale, transportation, and transfer of the bonnethead sharks in interstate commerce. The bonnethead sharks would then be shipped by individuals associated with Jamison in interstate commerce by a variety of means, including rental truck and as commercial air cargo.
The Information, in a series of “overt acts”, describes multiple instances when specific numbers of sharks were harvested, the transfer of sharks from Jamison to a commercial marine life facility on Big Pine Key, and specific payments received by Jamison for sharks sold in interstate commerce.
Mr. Ferrer commended the joint investigative efforts of the NOAA Office of Law Enforcement and the Fish & Wildlife Service, Office of Law Enforcement who participated in the long-term investigation into the illegal harvesting and sale of marine life resources from the Florida Keys known as Operation Rock Bottom, and noted the assistance of Refuge Officers from the Florida Keys National Wildlife Refuges and the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Air Marine Branch in the development of the case. This matter was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Thomas Watts-FitzGerald and Antonia Barnes.
A copy of this press release may be found on the website of the United States Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.usdoj.gov/usao/fls. Related court documents and information may be found on the website of the District Court for the Southern District of Florida at http://www.flsd.uscourts.gov or on http://pacer.flsd.uscourts.gov.