On February 19, 2008, Wang Hong, a Chinese national, was sentenced in Denver, Colorado, to 167 days in prison and three years of supervised release after. On January 3, 2008, Wang had pleaded guilty to federal smuggling charges in connection with knowingly sending four shipments of Hawksbill sea turtle shell and violin bows decorated with Hawksbill sea turtle shell, valued at a total of over $5,000.00, to undercover agents of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service working in Colorado during 2006 and
2007. Wang was arrested on September 6, 2007, as part of the multi-year undercover investigation.
To date, six of the seven defendants detained in September 2007 as a result of this investigation have pleaded guilty: Chinese nationals Fu Yiner and Wang Hong; Mexican nationals Carlos Leal Barragan and Esteban Lopez Estrada; Oscar Cueva of McAllen, Texas; and Jorge Caraveo of El Paso, Texas. Fu Yiner was sentenced on January 22, 2008, to 138 days of imprisonment (time served) and three years of supervised release.
The Hawksbill sea turtle is listed as endangered under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. It is also protected internationally by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Fauna and Flora, a multilateral treaty to which the United States, China, and approximately 170 other countries are parties. Importation of sea turtles into the United States for primarily commercial purposes is strictly prohibited.
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