St. Paul, Minn. (June 23, 2010) – Last week in a federal court in St. Paul, a 57-year-old St. Paul woman was sentenced for bringing endangered-species parts into the country. United States District Court Judge Richard H. Kyle sentenced Seng Her to three years of probation and 300 hours of community service on one count of smuggling goods into the U.S. She was indicted on December 9, 2009, and pleaded guilty on February 11, 2010.
In her plea agreement, Her admitted that on November 28, 2007, she knowingly smuggled into the U.S. parts of an Asian elephant, which is on the endangered species list, as well as several dead exotic birds, including the yellow-vented flowerpecker, the tailorbird, the prinia, and the passerine.
The undeclared importation of these animal parts is prohibited in the absence of proper permits, which Her did not possess. She was stopped by U.S. Customs & Border Protection officials at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport following a flight from Laos. The animal parts were concealed on her person.
The U.S. is a signatory on an international treaty aimed at protecting certain animal species from exploitation. The treaty provides that some protected species may be imported with appropriate permits.
However, the parts Her smuggled were from animals for which permits would not be issued because of their endangered status. Moreover, birds may not be brought into the U.S. from Laos because Laos is an avian flu source country.
“This investigation shows the federal government’s commitment to protecting endangered wildlife resources from illegal trade, both in the United States and abroad,” stated Patrick C. Lund, Resident Agent in Charge of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Midwest Region, which includes Minnesota.
This case is the result of an investigation by the U.S. Department of the Interior-Fish and Wildlife Service and U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Department of Justice.