Massachusetts man accused of trafficking in more than 100 animal parts from endangered wildlife

READING, Mass. — A Massachusetts man is accused of trafficking into the country more than 100 animal parts from endangered and protected wildlife, including African lion skulls, Jaguar skins, and Polar Bear skulls.

Adam Bied, 39, of Reading, is charged with two counts of conspiracy to smuggle goods into the United States, specifically, illegally imported wildlife parts, and three counts of violating the Lacey Act which prohibits trafficking in wildlife, Acting U.S. Attorney Josh Levy said in a statement on Friday.

Bied is said to have bought dozens of endangered wildlife parts from people in Cameroon and Indonesia who were in the businesses of killing and acquiring endangered and protected wildlife. He then illegally smuggled the endangered wildlife body parts into the U.S., and kept them at his home and also in a storage unit, prosecutors said.

Bied allegedly then resold or traded the endangered wildlife body parts to customers in the United States, Levy said.

Prosecutors believe the wildlife was protected by the Endangered Species Act as well as the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora, Levy said.

The charges against Bied came following a years-long investigation into the endangered wildlife trafficking operation, court filings show.

“The illicit trafficking of endangered wildlife for financial gain is a grave offense that poses a significant threat to global conservation efforts and preservation of these species. Mr. Bied’s alleged conduct reflects a blatant disregard for the laws in place to safeguard our planet’s biodiversity,” Levy said.

“These laws and international treaties exist to protect endangered species from exploitation and to maintain ecological balance,” Levy said. “In addition to the criminal charges, our office is seeking to forfeit the hundreds of animal parts seized from Mr. Bied’s home and a storage unit, including orangutan skulls, tiger skulls and jaguar skins. This forfeiture action sends a clear message that we will not only prosecute those who engage in illegal wildlife trafficking, but also take legal actions to strip them of their ill-gotten gains.”

According to court filings, beginning at least from January 2018 until June 2021, Bied bought, sold and traded in wildlife parts and products, while knowing that many of the transactions violated U.S. laws and regulations, and he knowingly failed to declare this wildlife upon importation into the United States.

Bied did not possess a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service import/export license or necessary CITES permits, and allegedly failed to declare the wildlife to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service upon import, Levy said.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office also filed a civil forfeiture complaint seeking to forfeit more than 100 wildlife parts from endangered, threatened, or protected species seized by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service in July 2021 from Bied’s home, storage unit, and a vehicle, Levy said.

Many of the seized wildlife parts required a CITES permit and/or a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declaration for lawful import and a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service import/export license to import wildlife for commercial purposes, Levy said.

Bied is accused of acquiring other wildlife parts in violation of the Endangered Species Act or the Marine Mammal Protection Act.

Investigators seized the following wildlife parts, which are subject to civil forfeiture under federal law:

· Orangutan skulls;

· Tiger skulls;

· Leopard skin, skulls and claw;

· Jaguar skin and skull;

· African lion skulls;

· Polar bear skull;

· Narwhal tusk;

· Otter skeleton;

· Harp seal skull;

· South American fur seal skull;

· Elephant seal skull;

· Babirusa skulls;

· Mandrillus skulls;

· Wallaby skull; and

· Jackal skull.

Federal wildlife statutes and regulations prohibit international and illegal trade in vulnerable wildlife species.

The Endangered Species Act, the Lacey Act and CITES, as well as the accompanying regulations, prohibit the import, export, possession, transport, purchase and sale of protected species, Levy said. The restrictions apply to live and dead wildlife specimens, as well as the skins, parts and products made in whole or in part from listed species.

Additional documents are also required for wildlife protected by the CITES treaty, which regulates trade in endangered or threatened species through permit requirements, Levy said.

The lawful importation of vulnerable wildlife species requires a CITES permit, Levy said. The lawful importation of any foreign species requires a USFWS wildlife declaration. Individuals are also required to have a U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service import/export license to import wildlife for commercial purposes.

The charges of conspiracy as well as the charges under the Lacey Act each provide for a sentence of up to five years in prison, three years of supervised release and a fine of up to $250,000.

This is a developing story. Check back for updates as more information becomes available.

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