Tag Archives: Lacey Act

Aquarium-Business Owner Admits to Trafficking Protected Corals

The owner of an aquarium business in Puerto Rico pleaded guilty Wednesday to harvesting protected reef creatures and selling them off island. Aristides Sanchez ran his saltwater aquarium business, Wonders of the Reef Aquarium, in his hometown of Arecibo, Puerto Rico. Prosecutors say native Puerto Rican marine species accounted for a large part of Sanchez’s business, and that he sent live specimens to customers in the mainland United States and foreign countries by commercial courier services. “From January 2013 to March 2016, Sanchez sent or caused to be sent at least 130 shipments of falsely labeled marine species that were illegally harvested in the waters of Puerto Rico,” the Justice Department says. click here to read the story 13:25

The man who destroyed the West Coast rock lobster

It took only 14 years for Cape Town businessman Arnold Bengis to decimate one of South Africa’s most treasured marine species. Now he is being made to pay by a US court‚ which has ordered the 81-year-old to cough up $37-million (about R483-million) for pillaging thousands of tons of rock lobster. South Africa will be the first foreign government in the world to be compensated under a 117-year-old US law‚ the Lacey Act‚ which regulates imports of protected species.,,, Former DAFF head of fisheries Horst Kleinschmidt‚ who testified in the District Court in 2004 about Bengis’s fishing activities‚ quoted research that suggested that free-falling rock lobster stocks “immediately stabilised” after his operation was stopped. click here to read the story 11:53

Elver dealer indicted on charges of buying, selling illegally caught eels

Elver buyer William Sheldon, of Woolwich, faces a seven-count federal indictment on charges alleging he dealt in illegally harvested juvenile eels over a four-year period beginning in 2011. Sitting in Portland, a grand jury on March 1 charged Sheldon with one count of conspiracy, three counts of illegal trafficking in wildlife and three counts of “false labeling” under the federal Lacey Act. If convicted, Sheldon faces up to five years imprisonment and a fine of $250,000 on each count. On Monday, Augusta attorney Walter McKee said his client would enter not guilty pleas at his appearance before U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge John H. Rich III currently scheduled for March 30. The indictments arise out of a long-running federal and multistate investigation into illegal elver harvesting — called “Operation Broken Glass.” On April 30, 2014, federal wildlife agents and Maine Marine Patrol officers raided two rooms at Jasper’s Motel on High Street rented by Sheldon to execute a search warrant looking for evidence that he had taken part in the purchase and sale of illegally harvested elvers through his company Kennebec Glass Eels. Read the story here 13:07

Ketchikan fishermen fined for violating Lacey Act

pacific_halibutThree fishermen from Ketchikan admitted to violating a federal wildlife law on Tuesday for illegally catching halibut without the proper permits and selling it to a seafood restaurant at below market rates. Prosecutors say it was a failed ploy by the business owner to keep the eatery from going under. Assistant U.S. Attorney Jack Schmidt said the investigation showed Thornlow began having financial difficulties with the restaurant and recruited the three fishermen to catch halibut illegally to save him money and earn some for the fishermen. Read the article here 09:06

David Bengis to pay $1.5m for role in illegal lobster catching

David Bengis, son of former Cape Town fishing magnate and convicted poacher and smuggler Arnold Bengis, has agreed to pay $1.5 million (R20.6m) to the South African government as restitution for the illegal harvesting of rock lobster in the country’s waters. This is part of the $22.5m restitution a US court ordered Bengis senior, junior and co-conspirator Jeffrey Noll pay in restitution to South Africa for the losses caused by their importation of poached lobster to the US in violation of US law. Read the rest here 14:40

Illegal red snapper catches has Corpus Christi man facing 5 years in prison

The co-owner and operator of Exclusive Fishing Texas, Christopher James Garcia, has plead guilty to not reporting the catch of red snapper and illegally selling more than 1,000 pounds of the fish caught in the Gulf of Mexico. Back in 2013, undercover agents met with Garcia in San Antonio after he drove two separate loads of red snapper from Port Aransas. He had not reported the fish against his catch quota (a violation of federal law) and did not have a wholesale truck dealer’s fish license (a violation of Texas law). Read the rest here 16:47

Affidavit spells out allegations against Maine elver dealer

William Sheldon is accused of encouraging elver fishermen, some of whom were undercover federal agents, to fish in prohibited areas and of buying elvers that he knew had not been legally harvested. The allegations described in the affidavit constitute violations of the federal Lacey Act, which prohibits interstate transport or transactions of any species of fish or wildlife illegally harvested or handled in any state. According to the document, anyone found guilty of knowingly violating the Lacey Act faces a potential fine of up to $250,000 and as many as five years in prison. Read the rest here 20:43

Pompano Beach seafood purveyor conspired to sell live spiny lobster caught in the Florida Keys to China

The government alleges in the 6-page document that Eric Berman conspired with at least one other person “known to the U.S. Attorney’s Office” to package and ship live lobster harvested in Monroe County to Hong Kong, China, via Miami International Airport.  Read more here 16:39