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post #1 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2009, 08:50 PM Thread Starter
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One for the Good Guys!

The article is HERE.


Quote:
California Man Arrested on Charges of Smuggling Lizards from Australia into the U.S

A Lomita, California, man was arrested at Los Angeles International Airport by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Special Agents Tuesday, November 17 and charged with smuggling after he allegedly attempted to clear U.S. Customs while concealing 15 live lizards strapped to his torsoe.

Michael Plank, 40, was returning to the United States from Australia when U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officers discovered the lizards, which had been concealed in a money belt. Wildlife Inspectors from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service identified the lizard species as two geckos, eleven skinks, and two monitor lizards. Monitor lizards are a protected species under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES). All reptiles from Australia are strictly regulated for export, and an Australian export permit is required. Australian export permits are generally not issued for personal or commercial purposes. The value of the lizards is estimated to exceed $8,500.

The case will be prosecuted by the U.S. Attorney's Office of the Central District of California in Los Angeles.

Federal law requires travelers to declare items brought into the United States from abroad, including wildlife. Concealing the illegal import of wildlife into the United States (smuggling) is a felony. The maximum penalty is 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. The charges and allegations are merely accusations and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. Plank has been released on a $10,000 bond and is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court in Los Angeles on December 21.

The mission of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is working with others to conserve, protect and enhance fish, wildlife, plants and their habitats for the continuing benefit of the American people. We are both a leader and trusted partner in fish and wildlife conservation, known for our scientific excellence, stewardship of lands and natural resources, dedicated professionals and commitment to public service. For more information on our work and the people who make it happen, visit www.fws.gov

Bob



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post #2 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-24-2009, 09:04 PM
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post #3 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-25-2009, 12:55 PM
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I actually didn't know that someone could get so long in prison for smuggling wildlife.




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post #4 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-25-2009, 01:02 PM
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I've never heard of anyone getting the maximum sentence, I'm sure it depends on the perceived value and endangerment of the animals involved... but it is one of those things that for every one that gets caught, there's probably a dozen or more that don't. Smuggling animals is big business.

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post #5 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-25-2009, 02:41 PM
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Woot! I Don;t understand though how someone who make it through security with lizards and snakes etc strapped to their bodies.





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post #6 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-25-2009, 07:15 PM Thread Starter
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Twenty years ago, you practically never heard folks even getting jail time for wildlife crime. Part of it was because there were no severe penalties available. Just about every year or so, the penalties for wildlife crimes has increased.


Fortunately, as public appreciation of the environment grows, the punishments for wildlife offenders has gotten significantly more severe. For instance, there is a bill pending in congress right now (HR 2062 Migratory Bird Treaty Act Penalty and Enforcement Act of 2009) that will stiffen the penalties for the Migratory Bird Treaty Act. This make the penalties up to two years in jail and a $50k fine.




We are also seeing younger judges who better understand the importance of wildlife and the effect of smuggling/poaching.



Bob



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post #7 of 7 (permalink) Old 11-26-2009, 05:05 AM
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Someone got caught trapping and selling native australian birds - king parrots and such - up the road from where I used to live. They got the full extent of the law. They took away all the nets and everything


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