tagged w/ Wildlife Smuggling
‘Major Wildlife Trafficker’ Gets 21 Months For Smuggling Live Turtles, Tortoises In Snack Food Boxes
April 30, 2012 1:30 PM
LOS ANGELES (CBS) — A man federal authorities call “a major wildlife trafficker” was sentenced Monday to 21 months in federal prison for smuggling 55 live turtles and tortoises inside snack food boxes into the United States last year.
Atushi Yamagami, 39, of Osaka, Japan, was sentenced Monday morning and additionally ordered to pay a $19,403 criminal fine.
Yamagami pleaded guilty to smuggling the 55 reptiles from Japan in August. Most of the smuggled animals were species protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species.
Federal prosecutors had also argued that the method of cramming the turtles into snack food packages, that were then stuffed into suitcases, constituted animal cruelty and that the animals posed the risk of transmitting salmonella.
Since his arrest at Los Angeles International Airport in January 2011, Yamagami has been held without bail.
Federal agents say Yamagami was the leader of an organized group of Japanese nationals responsible for smuggling protected turtles, tortoises, chameleons and lizards into and out of the U.S., primarily through airports in Honolulu and Los Angeles. After smuggling them into the country, Yamagami would sell or trade them at reptile shows across the U.S., using the proceeds to buy snakes, turtles and tortoises native to North America, prosecutors said.
An investigation determined that between 2004 and 2011, Yamagami and his couriers took 42 trips to and from the U.S., according to federal agents.
Norihide Ushirozako and Hiroki Uetsuki, two of Yamagami’s couriers from Osaka, were arrested and prosecuted for wildlife smuggling in 2011. Ushirozako was sentenced in August to time served — approximately seven months — and Uetsuki was also sentenced to time served, approximately six months.
‘Major Wildlife Trafficker’ Gets 21 Months For... more
Live tiger cub found in suitcase at Thai airport
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 27, 2010 12:36 p.m. EDT
This two-month old tiger cub was found stuffed in a woman's luggage at Bangkok's international airport.
* Authorities are trying to determine where the tiger came from
* Trade monitoring network says a baggage scan sparked airport workers' suspicions
* The tiger cub is two months old
Bangkok, Thailand (CNN) -- A live tiger cub hidden in a suitcase filled with stuffed toys was spotted as it went through a luggage X-ray at a major Thai airport, a wildlife trade monitoring network said.
Staff at Bangkok's Suvarnabhumi International Airport contacted authorities after a baggage scan showed an item resembling a real cat in a passenger's over-sized bag, the non-profit organization TRAFFIC said Thursday.
Investigators found a sedated, two-month-old tiger cub when they opened the bag for inspection.
Officials are trying to determine where the cub came from and whether it was caught in the wild or bred in captivity, TRAFFIC said.
Authorities found the tiger Sunday in a suitcase belonging to a 31-year-old Thai national, who was scheduled to board a flight for Iran, the organization said.
Chris R. Shepherd, TRAFFIC's deputy regional director for Southeast Asia, praised authorities for discovering the smuggling attempt, but said the case showed a need for more monitoring and tougher punishments.
"If people are trying to smuggle live tigers in their check-in luggage, they obviously think wildlife smuggling is something easy to get away with and do not fear reprimand," Shepherd said. "Only sustained pressure on wildlife traffickers and serious penalties can change that."Live tiger cub found in suitcase at Thai airport
By the CNN Wire Staff
August 27,... more
Did you read the story about the illegal trade in gorilla testicles? Have you seen the one about parrots poached in Brazil using glue? How about the news bulletin last week about the guy at LAX with Australian lizards strapped to his chest?
Generally there are two kinds of wildlife crime stories in the media: the weird news item showing a smuggler in flagrante (a stunned German tourist with a marmoset hidden in his beard) and the "in-depth" overseas report. I want to focus on the latter because too often these overseas reports kill endangered species.
After a description of a featured [mammal] [reptile] [bird] enjoying the best day of its life, chances are that any overseas report you've encountered went something like this:
Illegal trade in wildlife is a $10 billion a year industry, second only to trade in illegal drugs. Last summer [fall, winter, spring] I visited [foreign country] and found [mammal, reptile, bird] for sale. Here's a photo. Then I interviewed an NGO official who told me that [mammal, reptile, bird] is near extinction. So, I joined up with a ranger and went with him on patrol--notice the spectacular scenery--and sure enough the ranger caught somebody [picture] with a [mammal, reptile, bird]. Insert quote. Conclude with a personal reflection on man's inhumanity to [mammal, reptile, bird].
Starting with the first sentence, as above, these stories are factually wrong. And after that, they spiral into something that often reads like an eco-tourist's vacation diary.
Almost every news report on the illegal wildlife trade gives its value at between 6 billion and 20 billion dollars a year, and they invariably compare it to the markets for illegal drugs and guns. Google search "second only to drugs." Unfortunately, there is absolutely no basis for these numbers.
I first heard the six billion, second only to drugs description from a convicted smuggler who told me he had been hearing the same statistic for 20 years so if it was true he should be left alone since it meant he was in a zero-growth industry. Then I heard U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Agents use the statistic, and then NGO leaders. I grew suspicious when I asked an NGO official her source for the figure, and she responded, "Why do you want to know?"
In most cases, stories cite Interpol for the figures, or the State Department, or an NGO, which in turn cites Interpol.
I contacted Interpol to find out some details on the figures and got a response from Bill Clark, Interpol Secretary, who lives in Israel. Clark knew the statistic and its sourcing to Interpol. He said: "We have no idea where the media gets its numbers, but it's not from Interpol." In fact, he added, "Interpol has no reliable data on which to base an estimate."
The six-billion-dollar figure has been increased every few years to get the ten and twenty billion figures often reported. Clark said that a newspaper in Nairobi had recently published "$31bn annually!"
So what? We all know illegal wildlife trade is big and that illegal traders are bad, so (apart from accuracy) who cares if we spice up the numbers a little?
Click on link for complete article.Did you read the story about the illegal trade in gorilla testicles? Have you seen the... more