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Friday, July 26, 2019

Florida man (and woman) charged with smuggling exotic animals

Posted By on Fri, Jul 26, 2019 at 12:20 PM

  • Photo via Shutterstock
An indictment from a federal grand jury in Tampa was unsealed on Wednesday that charged a Port Richey couple with conspiracy and trafficking of wildlife worth over $200,000.

In 2017, the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) seized 369 "wildlife articles" from the home of Larry Malugin, 51, and Novita Indah, 48 - including a Javan spitting cobra, reticulated python, and belts and wallets made from monitor lizards. Agents also found bones and taxidermy mounts of leopards, owls, and Asian primates.

The indictment alleges that in 2011, the couple sold wildlife on eBay from their home in Indonesia. The items were shipped in falsely labeled packages and shipped to the United States. Indah and Malugin continued their activities when they moved to Puerto Rico, and then to Florida in 2013.

The online scheme ran until 2017 they made more than 4,500 sales of prohibited wildlife for about $211,212, according to a press release from the U.S Department of Justice.

The wildlife smuggled by the couple is protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The United States and Indonesia are among 181 nations that have signed the treaty.

"The CITES agreement was created to prevent the international trade of protected wildlife," Assistant Attorney General Jeffery Bossert Clark said in a press release. “And the Department of Justice will seek to prosecute individuals who flout this treaty and other important environmental laws."

Indah and Malugin face a maximum sentence of 20 years of incarceration on charges of smuggling and 5 years for violating the Lacey Act - which prohibits the trade of illegally procured wildlife.

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