PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) – Prosecutors say a Chinese national and an accomplice from Eugene smuggled over 300 live turtles into China from the United States, after buying them from reptile dealers across the country.
The Oregonian/OregonLive reports Xiao Dong Qin of Shanghai, China, pleaded guilty Tuesday to conspiring to smuggle goods from the United States.
He appeared in U.S. District Court in Eugene. His Eugene accomplice was not indicted, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
An investigation by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service revealed that Qin directed his co-conspirator to buy the turtles between May 2017 and June 2018. Investigators say the live turtles were shipped via U.S. mail and on commercial airline flights to China.
The turtles are protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
The market value of the turtles smuggled exceeded $250,000 in the Chinese pet trade, according to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.