We’ve seen our share of illegal smuggling convictions and while this case may not seem as severe it goes to show if you play by the rules you won’t get in trouble. According to this article in the Idaho Statesman, two people were charged with federal crimes for illegal shipment of protected live corals. Sure its not as sever as the $1 million in fines and jail one Winnipeg man is facing or the major mislabeling of rare Clipperton angelfish but these people were busted doing something a little more familiar.
The report shows Christopher K. Conk pleaded guilty to felony smuggling of goods from the United States, misdemeanor trafficking in wildlife and misdemeanor violating the Endangered Species Act, according to court records.Conk faces up to 10 years in prison and/or a $250,000 fine on the smuggling charge, and up to a year in prison and/or a $100,000 fine on each of the misdemeanor charges. It looks as if his plea agreement will land him a jail term from six to 12 months but will most likely serve probation. Also facing the courts is Deidra Davison, Conk’s ex-wife, who pleaded guilty to two misdemeanors — trafficking in wildlife and violating the Endangered Species Act. She and Conk will be sentenced in March.
So what did they do? Seems they had a coral selling business they were operating from their home. But they intentionally mislabeled corals that were purchased adn shipped them to Europe without the appropriate permits. Prosecutors said Davison shipped stony coral to recipients in the Netherlands and Great Britain where the contents of the shipments were misrepresented as “minerals,” “aquacultured zoa fragments” and “aquacultured ricordea fragments,” and she did not have an appropriate wildlife import/export license.
In July of last year, an undercover U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agent contacted Conk about purchasing a set of 10 ricordea corals. He had the coral shipped to Vienna. The manifest and packing list described the contents of the shipment as minerals and fragments, court documents show. The label did not contain any reference to wildlife, and Conk didn’t obtain a permit. Seems the Feds were tipped off to what the two were doing after their supplier was busted for illegal harvest of coral in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
On the surface this probably doesn’t seem too severe but it’s actions like this that threaten the wholesale and shipment industry with the potential to affect the hobby in detrimental ways.
[via Idaho Statesman]