In the spotlight

As for the Portland Group meets, they carried on an undercover investigation for three years and only one member was implicated in any illegal activity. I am very saddened that this article has shed a negative light on our Portland CP group. I also agree that this article is misleading in more ways than one, as is the way of the media.

I have seen firsthand what a tragically misguided, conniving, dangerous group of "phytocriminals" the "Sixpence Sect" is, and I swear I've never before encountered such a dank, intimidating group of misanthropes. (lingua in maxillam)
 
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I have seen firsthand what a tragically misguided, conniving, dangerous group of "phytocriminals" the "Sixpence Sect" is, and I swear I've never before encountered such a dank, intimidating group of misanthropes. (lingua in maxillam)

From what I heard from Nim, Ben is a pretty scary guy.
 
All jokes aside, I think its a shame Mat made some of the choices he made; the felony charges are going to limit his options in life.
I also think the article stinks in the way it portrays the average plant collector as an obsessed scofflaw. Whoever composed that piece was far too invested in recreating a mythology akin to that of Michael Kovach, Plant Smuggler Supreme, in order to craft a "Susan Orleans-eque" tale of dark intrigue within the seemingly benign community of PDX plant aficionados. Zero stars for gross overreach on the part of the writer, Doug Brown.
 
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bluemax

Lotsa blue
Supporter
Speaking strictly for myself, as our group has no designated leaders, I am grateful for the support of the TF community and all friends who have chimed in here. And I have enjoyed the humor and efforts to lighten a difficult situation. Lingua in maxillam, indeed.

Thanks, all.
 

adnedarn

I'm growing CPs in the Desert of Tucson, Az
Staff member
Moderator
Admin
I'm curious if anyone has spoken with the pub and if so what is their take on the whole thing and are you guys allowed to keep meeting there?
 
I'm curious if anyone has spoken with the pub and if so what is their take on the whole thing and are you guys allowed to keep meeting there?
As far as I'm aware, only one person had read the article before last weekend's meet and did not want to sour the mood by bringing it up. I do not believe anyone visits the pub outside of our monthly gatherings. Nobody from the pub said anything to us so hopefully we can just keep on like normal.

Of course the author of the article was interviewed on the local public radio station yesterday afternoon so more people will have heard about the story now. I guess we'll find out next month if anything has to change.
 

DJ57

I am a CPaholic...
Supporter
Moderator
I have seen firsthand what a tragically misguided, conniving, dangerous group of "phytocriminals" the "Sixpence Sect" is, and I swear I've never before encountered such a dank, intimidating group of misanthropes. (lingua in maxillam)

Thank you for noticing! OMG Paul :-)) I should have gone to the bathroom before reading.
 
Yeah, I'd seen the article right before the meet but I really didn't want to discuss the piece with the rest of the group in person. Online there's less chance for heated conversations and questions can be asked articulately.

I don't think that Mat necessarily deserves so much blame, there looks to be plenty of room in the scenario for unwitting purchases and clerical mistakes or cut corners. Not having the proper paperwork when you receive your ethically grown imports seems like a smaller problem than sustaining a poaching operation or a smuggling ring. lol, if we're a smuggling ring, who's the kingpin?

the rajah plants though, that looks pretty naive. makes me wonder how much he knew about his vendor
 
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Wow. He was told he was doing illegal stuff and that his shipment was seized, yet continued to do said illegal stuff!

"On November 6, the FWS says it delivered a letter informing Orchard that his Nepenthes rajah package was seized in California. It offered him info on the CITES pact and a “buyer beware” brochure."
 
I don't think that Mat necessarily deserves so much blame, there looks to be plenty of room in the scenario for unwitting purchases and clerical mistakes or cut corners. Not having the proper paperwork when you receive your ethically grown imports seems like a smaller problem than sustaining a poaching operation

the rajah plants though, that looks pretty naive. makes me wonder how much he knew about his vendor

I think you are being both generous and naive.
 
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i very well may. Though I'd hesitate to call out Mat as a complete criminal without more official inquiry than the Mercury
 
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i very well may. Though I'd hesitate to call out Mat as a complete criminal without more official inquiry than the Mercury

What will convince you? The feds, not the local newspaper, confiscated hundreds of his plants and lots of equipment. The guy even pleaded guilty and could go to prison for five years. Someone who knowingly funds poachers is absolutely a criminal. The newspaper may have made it into a nice little detective story, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Contrary to others in this thread I also don't see any badmouthing carnivorous plant communities in the article. The part on Wistuba was hazily worded and misleading (made me check if there was perhaps a reseller by the same name), but otherwise all that's written is that there was a rotten apple in the basket, and it was thrown out. Nothing more, nothing less.
 
What will convince you? The feds, not the local newspaper, confiscated hundreds of his plants and lots of equipment. The guy even pleaded guilty and could go to prison for five years. Someone who knowingly funds poachers is absolutely a criminal. The newspaper may have made it into a nice little detective story, but that doesn't mean it isn't true.

Contrary to others in this thread I also don't see any badmouthing carnivorous plant communities in the article. The part on Wistuba was hazily worded and misleading (made me check if there was perhaps a reseller by the same name), but otherwise all that's written is that there was a rotten apple in the basket, and it was thrown out. Nothing more, nothing less.

The article does seem to imply that it's illegal to own some of these plants at all (which is absolutely false,) and that others in our local group may be up to some criminal activity as well. It really doesn't seem like good press for the Moon and Sixpence either, which has very graciously put up with us filling multiple tables up with plants once a month for years. It reeks of either a lack of basic research on the author's part, or purposeful sensationalism to make a small story sound like something big.

And that brings me to my second point: They spent 3 years investigating, supposedly confiscated a huge box full of poached N. rajah plants, and in the end somehow only managed to charge him for 3 unrelated plants. The outcome of the court case really doesn't add up. Without examining the evidence myself I couldn't say what happened, but I wouldn't be so quick to judge based on what little information we have in a sensationalized article.

Do you really think it's ok that the feds can destroy hundreds of (mostly endangered) plants just because a handful of them may have been obtained illegally?
 

Not a Number

Hello, I must be going...
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Contrary to others in this thread I also don't see any badmouthing carnivorous plant communities in the article.

I agree. I re-read the article yesterday morning and I don't really see a negative portrayal of the Portland group or CP communities as a whole. Mato's Facebook posting might give some people the wrong impression perhaps. Plant nerds? It would not surprise me if any of you have used this term to describe yourself or others in the community.

Edit:

Listening to the radio interview the writer says he can't speak one way or the other about others in the group as he doesn't know any of them.

He explains the reason why the investigation took so long was the office had only one investigator and there were other on-going cases to investigate.

The indictment for the N. villosa was stronger because they had a paper trail with email and financial records tracing obtaining the plants to selling them.

From Mato's emails it seemed plain he knew what he was doing even speaking of smuggling and how he has had other shipments seized.

He said Mato plead guilty. There may have been a bargain for pleading guilty to a lesser charge for a reduced sentence.

The Feds had a strong enough case that they were willing to take it to trial. Most of the times at worst it will just be a fine. Dig around on the Nepenthes sub-forum and Joe Griffin will relate how he won a plant on eBay but instead of the seller waiting for the paper work he shipped the plant marked as Children's Toys or something. Joe said the fine was $2500. There is a similar story on the ICPS forum (it may have been Joe there too).
 
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I agree with Warren's take on things; but I was a bit puzzled by the odd guilt-by-association mention of both Wistuba and, in particular, his nursery in the article, regardless of some rumour mongering over the years. The subject was left dangling there like a dead carp . . .
 

DJ57

I am a CPaholic...
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The outcome of the court case really doesn't add up.

It seems Mat had a lawyer who did not serve him well. I am sure there are details of the case we aren't privy to that may clear the muddied waters, as usually is the case when getting our information from limited sources such as a newspaper. It would have been interesting to see what the outcome would be if this had been taken to trial. There is no outcome at the moment, he has not been sentenced yet.

Keep in mind that this is uncharted territory for the DFW in our area, unprecedented case, and being so you have some pretty ambitious players wanting to make a name for themselves at whatever cost...just my opinion so take it as such. I know of a couple people here caught poaching deer and black bear who got off with just a fine and probation, no jail time, no media attention.
 
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Dexenthes

Aristoloingulamata
I am sickened by this article and it draws a heavy pit to my stomach.

The underinformed and the plant illiterate will absolutely read this article and take away an idea that growing and collecting rare Nepenthes is outwardly illegal and shadowy.

It is a true shame that Mat made the illegal decisions that he made. It is an even greater shame that it was ultimately brought to trial in such a public manner. Also the idea that I may have traded plants to or from a confidential informant makes me feel queasy, even if it's just a D. capensis. :shark:

Keep your friends close. :water:
 
Also the idea that I may have traded plants to or from a confidential informant makes me feel queasy, even if it's just a D. capensis. :shark:

Keep your friends close. :water:

I definitely agree with this. It makes it hard to trust anyone who says they are new to the hobby and makes me wonder if I have had transactions with any informants in the past. Absolutely disgusting.
 

Clue

clippity-clip-clip
I definitely agree with this. It makes it hard to trust anyone who says they are new to the hobby and makes me wonder if I have had transactions with any informants in the past. Absolutely disgusting.

I don't think this level of paranoia is warranted -- they were building a case based on obvious instances of smuggling and the investigation was limited in scope to those directly involved. I'm sure Fish and Wildlife has better things to do than maintain some sort of sting trading operation with the general CP community and I'm not sure what sort of evidence they could use to incriminate you unless you actually do something illegal, like trading species protected under the Endangered Species Act across state lines. I'm sure there are more pertinent cases to build than chasing ghosts with the general public. While the author's piece might imply guilt by association, the agents didn't investigate the rest of the group.
 

Not a Number

Hello, I must be going...
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The charges were under the Lacey Act. While you can legally acquire or posses CITES appendix I and II species "Under the Lacey Act, it is unlawful to import, export, sell, acquire, or purchase fish, wildlife or plants that are taken, possessed, transported, or sold: 1) in violation of U.S. or Indian law, or 2) in interstate or foreign commerce involving any fish, wildlife, or plants taken possessed or sold in violation of State or foreign law."

Since the N. villosa was apparently "smuggled" - probably lacking the required PPQ 587 permits, and phytosanitary and CITES documentations (the last are to be supplied by the exporter/shipper/seller) - then the Lacey Act has been violated. Possession, selling and buying these illegally obtained plants is also a violation of the Lacey Act if I'm reading this correctly.

§ 3372. Prohibited acts
(a) Offenses other than marking offenses
It is unlawful for any person -
(1) to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase any fish or wildlife or plant taken,
possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law, treaty, or regulation of the United States or in
violation of any Indian tribal law;
(2) to import, export, transport, sell, receive, acquire, or purchase in interstate or foreign commerce -
(A) any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or
regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law;
(B) any plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or regulation of
any State; or
(C) any prohibited wildlife species (subject to subsection (e) of this section);
(3) within the special maritime and territorial jurisdiction of the United States (as defined in section 7
of title 18) -
(A) to possess any fish or wildlife taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any
law or regulation of any State or in violation of any foreign law or Indian tribal law, or
(B) to possess any plant taken, possessed, transported, or sold in violation of any law or
regulation of any State; or
(4) to attempt to commit any act described in paragraphs (1) through (3).

https://www.fws.gov/le/pdffiles/Lacey.pdf
https://www.fws.gov/international/laws-treaties-agreements/us-conservation-laws/lacey-act.html
https://www.fws.gov/le/injurious-wildlife.html
http://www.aphis.usda.gov/wps/porta...nt_health/sa_import/sa_lacey_act/ct_lacey_act
 
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