I posted this usenet post from firstrays orchids in the hope others would look at their stand in favor of an importer of endangered CITES protected Phragmipediums which were wild collected. Firstrays has been supportive of them, claiming their innocence would be proven, from the start, and is now still supportive even after they have admitted guilt and fled the country while on bail.
For more information, try searching on google.com groups for "firstrays orchid smuggling".
Subject: Re: Arias Sentenced
From: "Ray" raybark@REMOVETHISfirstrays.com
Date: 7/28/2004 6:18 PM Central Daylight Time
On a positive note, Manuel, as I understand it, is back home and I would
hope it's unlikely that his government will extradite a 70 year old man.
On the negative side of this is the fact that our friend George is up
against this same judge, and the F&WS won't be happy about Manuel...
Ray Barkalow - First Rays Orchids - www.firstrays.com
Plants, Supplies, Books, Artwork, and Lots of Free Info!
"Diana Kulaga" <firstname.lastname@example.org> wrote in message
> Peruvian grower gets 21 months for smuggling rare orchids
> Associated Press
> MIAMI - A prominent Peruvian orchid grower was sentenced Tuesday to almost
> two years in federal prison for scheming to smuggle prized tropical lady
> slipper orchids into the United States.
> Manuel Arias Silva will spend one year and nine months in prison for
> shipping internationally protected wild orchids intermingled with
> nursery-raised flowers to a Texas dealer several times to feed the desires
> of high-end hobbyists from 1999 to last year.
> U.S. District Judge Patricia Seitz sentenced Arias to the low end of the
> federal guidelines on his guilty plea to two counts. He admitted shipping
> 2,050 orchids, including the endangered Phragmipedium species, worth
> from Peru through Miami to suburban Houston.
> "Judge Seitz did the best and the fairest she could under the
> circumstances," said defense attorney Peter Raben.
> The dealer, George W. Norris of Spring, Texas, also has pleaded guilty and
> faces sentencing Sept. 2. The investigation was based on a tip about
> offering endangered species for sale on the Internet.
> Norris instructed Arias to ship through South Florida because U.S.
> Department of Agriculture inspectors at Miami International Airport were
> more lax than their counterparts in Houston, according to papers and
> seized in the investigation.
> Arias, 70, was one of three Peruvian growers with permission to cultivate
> endangered and newly discovered orchids from recently deforested areas. He
> apologized in a letter to the judge asking for mercy and noting his
> "sincere" conservation efforts.
> The Peruvian lady slippers, known as "phrags" in collecting circles, are
> considered seriously endangered in the wild and are protected by
> international treaty. Nursery-raised varieties can be exported with
> government permits.