Although not related to Australia I thought everyone might be interested
in this given the recent discussion on poaching.
Cynics might suggest the length of the sentence had more to do with the
tax evasion than the smuggling...
KINGPIN OF PARROT SMUGGLING RING
SENTENCED TO NEARLY 7 YEARS WITHOUT PAROLE
On November 18, a Federal court in Chicago sentenced Tony Silva,
an internationally recognized expert and outspoken protector of
exotic birds, to nearly 7 years of imprisonment without parole
for leading an international parrot smuggling conspiracy and a
related income tax violation.
In addition to the 82-month incarceration, U.S. District Court
Judge Elaine Bucklo fined Silva $100,000 and ordered him to
perform 200 hours of community service during a 3-year supervised
release program following the prison term. This is one of the
most severe sentences ever imposed for bird smuggling.
Also sentenced was Gila Daoud, Silva's mother. She will serve a
27-month prison term to be followed by a one-year supervised
release program with concurrent 200 hours of community service.
As she handed down the sentences, Judge Bucklo said, "The real
victims of these crimes were the birds themselves and our
children and future generations who may never have the
opportunity to see any of these rare birds."
On January 30, 1996, Silva pled guilty to a far-reaching
conspiracy to smuggle or attempt to smuggle into this country
some of the world's most endangered, beautiful, and highly
protected wild birds. The value of the smuggled wildlife totaled
$1,386,900. Included in these illegal shipments were substantial
numbers of extremely rare hyacinth macaws. Silva also pled
guilty to filing a false income tax return in connection with his
sale of birds.
The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Division of Law
Enforcement's Branch of Special Operations spearheaded "Operation
Renegade," a 3-year international probe to stem illegal trade in
wild birds. "The severity of the sentence in this case sends a
clear signal that the United States will absolutely not tolerate
the depletion of irreplaceable natural resources for personal
gain," said John Rogers, acting Service director.
The hyacinth macaw, found primarily in Brazil, has a wild
population numbering between 2,000 and 5,000. One of these birds
can command a price of $5,000 to $12,000. Because of this and
the bird's precarious status in the wild, the hyacinth macaw has
been accorded the highest level of protection provided under the
Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES),
an international wildlife treaty to which the United States and
131 other nations are parties. Worldwide, the illegal wildlife
trade is a multi-billion-dollar-a-year business, second only to
illegal drug trade.
"The United States takes its obligations and responsibilities
under CITES very seriously," said Rogers. "This case reflects
the Service's deep commitment to safeguarding the global
community's natural resources."
The prosecution was led by the United States Attorney's Office in
Chicago and assisted by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service and the
Wildlife and Marine Resources Section of the Environment and
Natural Resources Division of the U.S. Department of Justice.