Two People Convicted and Fined for Their Role in a Major International Endangered Species Smuggling Ring



    HALIFAX, Nov. 8 /CNW Telbec/ - Two Florida residents were convicted and
fined in Halifax Provincial Court today for their roles in a major smuggling
ring involving Queen Conch, an internationally protected marine endangered
species.
    Mr. Ramon Placeres, 58, and Ms. Janitse Martinez, 33, were represented by
their legal counsel to face charges laid by Environment Canada Wildlife
Enforcement Officers under the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation
of International and Interprovincial Trade Act.
    Both received a fine of $10,000 U.S. dollars for unlawfully importing
Queen Conch meat into Canada and another fine of $10,000 U.S. dollars for
unlawfully exporting Queen Conch meat from Canada. $20,000 of this will be
placed in the Environmental Damages Fund that is administered by Environment
Canada on behalf of the Government of Canada. The Fund provides courts with a
way to direct money from fines to work to restore and protect the environment
    The convictions are part of an 18-month-long investigation involving
federal wildlife officers in Nova Scotia, Ontario, Quebec, and British
Columbia, and American officers from Florida. Canadian and United States
federal wildlife officials announced on September 26, 2007 that the smuggling
ring had been dismantled.
    The smuggling operation is believed to have been responsible for
illegally importing and exporting 119,978 kilograms (the equivalent of nearly
seven fully loaded semi trailers) of Queen Conch meat from several Caribbean
and South American countries to and from Canada and the United States from
2004 to 2006. Environment Canada Enforcement Officers seized 17,672 kilograms
of the meat in Halifax, the largest amount seized in Canada. There were also
seizures in Montreal and in Buffalo, New York. The United States Fish and
Wildlife Service, the United States National Marine Fisheries Service, and
Canadian and American border officials also contributed to the investigation
that lead to the seizures.
    Proceedings are ongoing in Vancouver Provincial Court against Pacific
Marine Union Corp. of Vancouver, British Columbia and its Chief Executive
Officer, Mr. Zamorro Gabriel Shone, also of Vancouver, British Columbia
regarding their alleged role in the smuggling ring.
    Queen Conch is protected under the Convention on the International Trade
of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In Canada, this Convention is
implemented by the Wild Animal and Plant Protection and Regulation of
International and Interprovincial Trade Act. Under this Act offences are
punishable upon conviction to a maximum fine of $300,000 or imprisonment up to
five years, or both. It has been estimated that the meat of between 798,000
and 1.05 million individual conchs was seized from the smuggling ring.

    Environment Canada is responsible for enforcing federal laws regulating
wildlife trade, including trade in endangered and invasive species, as well as
laws for protecting species at risk and conserving migratory birds and select
wildlife areas.

    To report the smuggling or trafficking of endangered species or any
infraction of a federal wildlife law, the public is invited to contact
Environment Canada's Wildlife Enforcement Division toll free at
1-800-463-4311.

    (Egalement offert en français)




For further information:

For further information: Les Sampson, Wildlife Enforcement Officer,
Wildlife Enforcement Division, Atlantic, (902) 426-8606; Environment Canada,
Media Relations, (819) 934-8008, 1-888-908-8008


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