A 27-year-old man from Worcester, Massachusetts, has pleaded guilty in connection with illegally exporting and importing species of turtle and salamander. Nathan Boss was arrested and charged in October 2019, and subsequently indicted in November 2019.
Boss has pleaded guilty to two counts of smuggling wildlife out of the United States, two counts of smuggling wildlife into the United States, and making false statements to a US Federal Agent.
Lying To Federal Authorities
In 2017, an investigation was launched after Boss made false statements to federal investigators regarding the identity of a recipient of illegally imported wildlife into the US.
Following this, the authorities seized an inbound US Postal Service package from Hong Kong. It was addressed to "Shelton Boss", the resident of an address on Mildred Avenue in Worcester.
Illegally Importing and Exporting Wildlife
The intercepted package contained four black-breasted leaf turtles (Geoemyda spengleri), a species that finds a place in the Convention for Trade in Endangered Species and Wild Fauna. It is an international agreement that regulated the import of designated wildlife in the US. In the case of black-breasted leaf turtles, it is mandatory to declare its import into the US and before the receipt of any shipment, it must be approved by Fish and Wildlife Service.
In addition to the turtles, it was found that Boss had also imported an injurious species of salamander illegally. The salamander, whose importation to the US is prohibited, is known to be the host of a lethal fungal disease. Upon further investigation, it was found that Boss had illegally exported undeclared wildlife on several occasions to locations in Sweden and Hong Kong.
The charges pressed against Boss provide for a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, followed by three years of supervised release. He could also be slapped with a fine of $250,000. Sentences imposed by federal district court judges are based on several statutory factors, along with precedence for US Sentencing Guidelines.