Home

Prision sentence in narwhal tusk case

Leave a comment

  
From the U.S. Department of Justice:

A resident of Brinnon, Washington, was sentenced last week in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to six months in prison and a $25,000 fine for trafficking ivory from protected species. David L. Boone, who operates Boone Trading Company, participated in an operation that illegally smuggled narwhal tusks taken from the threatened Arctic whales into the United States from Canada, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. 

Boone also trafficked in sperm whale teeth and walrus tusks.   
According to records filed in the case, between 2006 and 2008, Boone purchased narwhal tusks from a Canadian and a resident of Tennessee. Narwhals are Arctic whales often called the ‘Unicorn of the Sea’ because of their prominent tusk. While native Inuit of northern Canada are allowed to hunt narwhal, it is illegal to import tusks into the United States. Boone purchased tusks knowing they had been smuggled across the border from Canada, he then sold the tusks on the black market at a huge profit.

 Additionally, in October 2011 Boone sold sperm whale teeth to an undercover law enforcement officer, and in February 2012 bought and sold a walrus skull and tusks. The transactions were illegal under the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

The Canadian exporter of the narwhal tusks plead guilty to multiple counts of money laundering and was sentenced today in U.S. District Court for the District of Maine to more than 5 years in prison. In addition to BOONE, three other United States citizens were prosecuted and convicted for their participation in the narwhal tusk smuggling scheme – one in the District of Maine, and one each in the Districts of Massachusetts and Alaska.

The court directed that the $25,000 criminal fine be paid to the Lacey Act Reward Fund. Monies deposited into this Fund are used to reward persons who furnish information leading to successful enforcement actions against those who traffic in illegally taken fish and wildlife.

Advertisements

Company pleads in Rosewood oil investigation

Leave a comment

From the U.S. Department of Justice:

Young Living Essential Oils, headquartered in Lehi, Utah, pleaded guilty in federal court to federal misdemeanor charges regarding its illegal trafficking of rosewood oil and spikenard oil in violation of the Lacey Act and the Endangered Species Act, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

The Company voluntarily disclosed its rosewood oil violations and has been cooperating with government investigators. Pursuant to the terms of the plea agreement, the Company was sentenced to a fine of $500,000 and $135,000 in restitution, a community service payment of $125,000 for the conservation of protected species of plants used in essential oils, and a term of five years’ probation with special conditions. The conditions include the implementation of a corporate compliance plan, audits, and the publication of statements regarding its convictions.

More

Plea in Abalone Plot

Leave a comment

From the U.S.Department of Justice: 
  

SAN DIEGO – Chula Vista, Calif., resident Yon Pon Wong pleaded guilty in federal court on Aug. 31, 2017, to illegally importing $3 million of abalone.

In pleading guilty, Wong, doing business as Lucky Company, admitted that he imported the abalone using commercial invoices that falsely identified the seller. The 43 importations Wong referred to occurred between February 2012, and July 2015, and involved a total of approximately 67,500 kilograms (148,500 pounds) of abalone. The invoices falsely stated the seller to be Exportadora De Mariscos De Mexico, SA de CV, at the false address of Calle Cubilete No 110, Fracc Capistrano, Tijuana, Mexico. As part of his plea, Wong agreed to forfeit $500,000 of proceeds of the illegal importation.

Abalone is a highly regulated fishery in Mexico. The laws of Mexico require that commercial invoices have sufficient information on them to allow tracking of the seafood to its lawful origin. An invoice lacking the true name and address of the vendor does not permit authorities on either side of the border to trace the origin of the product.

Plea in coral smuggling case

Leave a comment

  From the U.S. Department of Justice:

A resident of Arecibo, Puerto Rico, pleaded guilty today to two felony violations of the federal Lacey Act for collecting, purchasing, falsely labeling, and shipping protected marine invertebrate species as part of an effort to subvert Puerto Rican law designed to protect corals and other reef species, the Department of Justice announced.

According to the U.S. Department of Justice, Aristides Sanchez was the owner of the Arecibo-based saltwater aquarium business, Wonders of the Reef Aquarium. A large part of the business was devoted to the sale of native Puerto Rican marine species that are popular in the saltwater aquarium trade. Sanchez sent live specimens to customers in the mainland United States and foreign countries by commercial courier services, Justice officials said.

One of the most popular items that Sanchez sent off-island was an organism from the genus Ricordea. These animals are known as “rics,” “polyps,” or “mushrooms” in the aquarium industry. Members of the genus form part of the reef structure and spend their adult lives fastened in place to the reef. These animals are colorful in natural light, but what makes them particularly interesting to aquarium owners is that they “glow” under the UV lights that are typically used in high-end saltwater aquariums.

More

Mountaineers rescued on Grand Teton

Leave a comment

  Courtesy the National Park Service:

MOOSE, WY—Grand Teton National Park’s Jenny Lake Rangers, Teton Interagency Helitack, and the Teton Interagency Contract Helicopter came to the rescue of two mountaineers Tuesday, August 15, 2017. 

The mountaineers, Nick Marucci, 30, of Salt Lake City, Utah,mand Laura Robertson, 23, of Orem, Utah, were attempting to complete the Grand Traverse when they became mentally and physically exhausted after five challenging days in the high mountains.
Marucci and Robertson ascended Teewinot Mountain and Mount Owen on the first two days of their journey before cool temperatures, rain, and hail hampered their progress on Sunday. On Monday, the two climbers ascended a portion of the North Ridge of the Grand Teton despite limited visibility and wet, icy conditions. After ascending a few hundred feet, suffering minor injuries, and loosing manual dexterity due to the cold, they called for help at 4:15 p.m. Their call was forwarded from the Teton County Sheriff’s Office Dispatch to Teton Interagency Dispatch Center.

Jenny Lake Rangers took the call and attempted to talk the mountaineers through various escape route possibilities. Rangers stationed at the Lower Saddle also attempted to reach their location but were unable to do so due to the wet conditions. The rangers then advised Marucci and Robertson to descend to a small ledge and spend the night in their tent before descending two rappels further to the Grandstand feature the following morning.
After discussing options with the climbers to make the long descent out of the mountains Tuesday morning, it became clear that they were too exhausted and an aerial rescue would be the safest and most expeditious form of rescue. Rangers conducted a reconnaissance flight before configuring the helicopter for short-haul rescue. Short-haul is a rescue technique where an individual or gear is suspended below the helicopter on a 150 to 250 foot rope.

More

Back on tap

Leave a comment

  One of the welcome sights at National Park visitor centers in recent years has been the wall-mounted bottle filling station. Even though it means awkwardly balancing my floppy backpack water bladder under the sensor-controlled spout, I know I’ll have cool, refreshing water for the hike.

Those stations came about, in large part, with a plan to eliminate bottled water.

But now bottled water is back on tap, er, available again at National Park shops.

Back in 2011, the Park Service issued a memo encouraging parks to ax the sale of disposable water bottles in favor of the filing stations as a way to cut down on trash and eliminate waste.

On Wednesday, the Park Service “discontinued” the memo, citing, in part, the hypocrisy of still allowing sugar-packed soda.

“The ban removed the healthiest beverage choice at a variety of parks while still allowing sales of bottled sweetened drinks,” Park Service officials said in a release announcing the reversal. 

According to the Park Service, only 23 of the 417 National Park Service sites were operating under the 2011 disposable bottle ban memo as of August. 
Parks will continue to promote water bottles recycling and filling stations..

Two charged with stealing sea turtle eggs

Leave a comment

 Two Riviera Beach men charged with stealing sea turtle eggs from a St. Lucie County beach in Florida, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Carl Lawrence Cobb, 60, of Riviera Beach, is charged by indictment with two counts of transporting sea turtle eggs for the purpose of sale, in violation of the Lacey Act and two counts of violating the Endangered Species Act by possessing the eggs. Raymond Saunders, 50, also of Riviera Beach, is charged by indictment with one count of transporting sea turtle eggs for the purpose of sale and one count of violating the Endangered Species Act by possessing the eggs …

According to the court record, on May 5, 2017, a concerned citizen reported to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission that a man was disturbing sea turtle nests on North Hutchinson Island. A law enforcement investigation revealed that Cobb had removed over 200 eggs from two sea turtle nests. On May 24, 2017, law enforcement officials observed Cobb and Saunders remove approximately 469 sea turtle eggs from nests on North Hutchinson Island. Cobb and Saunders were arrested as they were transporting the eggs to Palm Beach County. The recovered eggs were relocated by marine biologists in the hope that some of them will yield hatchlings.

Man arraigned on rhino horn charges

Leave a comment

IMG_0344From the U.S. Department of Justice:

Guan Zong Chen, aka Graham Chen, a Chinese national, was arraigned July 25, 2017, in federal court in Boston, Massachusetts,non charges that he led a conspiracy to  smuggle $700,000 worth of wildlife items made from rhinoceros horn, elephant ivory and coral from the United States to Hong Kong.

Chen was arrested last year when he traveled from China to Australia and today’s hearing was his first court appearance on an indictment returned by a Boston grand jury in 2015 and unsealed in anticipation of the hearing.

According to the eight-count indictment, Chen purchased the wildlife artifacts at U.S. auction houses located in California, Florida, Ohio, Pennsylvania, New York and Texas. He conspired with another Chinese national, a recent college graduate in China to travel to the United States to pick up the purchased items and either hand carry or arrange for them to be mailed to another co-conspirator that owned a shipping business in Concord, Massachusetts. The shipper then repacked the wildlife items and exported (smuggled) them to Hong Kong with documents that falsely stated their contents and value and without obtaining required declarations and permits. In April 2014, Chen visited the United States and visited the shipper in Concord, Massachusetts. During the visit with the shipper, CHEN instructed the shipper to illegally export (smuggle) a sculpture made from elephant ivory to Hong Kong on Chen’s behalf and falsely declared it to be made of wood and worth $50.

Shell collecting: “Military device” shuts down beach

Leave a comment

 

Crusty military device, with glove for scale. Photo courtest Dare County Emergency Management.

 A newly formed island on North Carolina’s Outer Banks has been reopened after a Navy bomb squad removed the crusty remains of a World War II era training bomb that washed ashore Friday, July 14.

The “military device” was spotted on Shelly Island, a mile-long 500-foot wide sandbar, prompting the evacuation of a one-mile safety buffer.

Below is the National Park Service account:

Hatteras Island Rescue Squad responded to a report of what appears to be an old, unidentified military device on the sand bar off Cape Point. Dare County Emergency Management requested assistance from the U. S. Navy’s Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD) unit from Little Creek Virginia. Based on images below, out of an abundance of caution, the EOD unit asked that a one mile safety perimeter be established until they could arrive and determine the exact nature of the item.

A portion of the one mile perimeter falls within the boundaries of Cape Hatteras National Seashore (Seashore), in the Cape Point area. The Seashore, in partnership with the Dare County Sheriff’s office, Hatteras Island Rescue Squad, and N.C. Wildlife Resources Commission, will comply with the U.S. Navy’s direction by temporarily establishing a perimeter starting at the entrance to off-road vehicle (ORV) Ramp 44. The ORV ramp will reopen to ORVs and pedestrians once the Seashore has received an all clear from the U.S. Navy.

More on Hobby Lobby forfeiture 

Leave a comment

 This week’s announcement that Hobby Lobby reached an agreement with the U.S. government over hundreds of smuggled cuneiform tablets and other artifacts brought a lot of questions. People were under the impression that the historical loot was being sold at stores.

But, this report by NPR indicates Hobby Lobby’s owners are in the process of building a Bible museum. Below is the forfeiture complaint, which has a lot of details but sheds no light on why the items were acquired.

Forfeiture filed for Hobby Lobby artifacts

Leave a comment

tablets edit

Cuneiform tablet. Photo courtesty ICE

Courtesy Immigration and Customs Enforcement

NEW YORK – Pursuant to an investigation led by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations New York of Hobby Lobby Stores, Inc., the nationwide arts-and-crafts retailer and two of Hobby Lobby’s corporate affiliates, the United States filed civil complaint to forfeit thousands of cuneiform tablets and clay bullae.

As alleged in the complaint, these ancient clay artifacts originated in the area of modern-day Iraq and were smuggled into the United States through the United Arab Emirates and Israel, contrary to federal law. Packages containing the artifacts were shipped to Hobby Lobby and the shipping labels on these packages falsely described cuneiform tablets as tile “samples.”

The government also filed a stipulation of settlement with Hobby Lobby, in which Hobby Lobby consented to the forfeiture of the artifacts in the complaint, approximately 144 cylinder seals and an additional sum of $3 million, resolving the civil action. Hobby Lobby further agreed to adopt internal policies and procedures governing its importation and purchase of cultural property, provide appropriate training to its personnel, hire qualified outside customs counsel and customs brokers, and submit quarterly reports to the government on any cultural property acquisitions for the next eighteen months.

More

Bison attack at Yellowstone

Leave a comment

 From the National Park Service

On Wednesday morning, June 28, 2017, a married couple received injuries after being “butted” by a bison at Mud Volcano, just north of Lake Village in Yellowstone National Park.

The Heber City, Utah, couple was taking photographs on a boardwalk at Mud Volcano, when a bison approached them. The bison butted The wife, age 72, who then fell into her husband, age 74, and both individuals fell to the ground.

Park rangers responded immediately and evacuated the couple from the trail, a quarter mile, to the road. The couple was transported to the Lake Clinic. The husband had minor injuries, and the wife was transported by Life Flight to Idaho Falls, Idaho. She was in stable condition. Citations were not issued to either individual.

When an animal is near a trail, boardwalk, parking lot, or in a developed area, give it space. Stay 25 yards away from all large animals – bison, elk, bighorn sheep, deer, moose, and coyotes and at least 100 yards away from bears and wolves. If need be, turn around and go the other way to avoid interacting with a wild animal in close proximity.

This is the first confirmed incident of a bison injuring visitors in 2017. In 2015, five people were injured after approaching bison.

Older Entries