A CO LIMERICK man has been jailed for one year in Texas, after pleading guilty to trafficking in endangered rhino horns.
Patrick Sheridan, from Rathkeale, was charged along with an unnamed individual, also from Rathkeale, and Michael Slattery Jr, with buying and selling black rhino horns in a scheme that operated across three US states, the UK and Ireland, between 2010 and 2011.
According to the indictment against him, Sheridan and his partners based their scheme in the city of Austin, and travelled back and forth across the Atlantic, as well as in Missouri and New York.
They violated the Endangered Species Act by knowingly purchasing specimens from two protected species – namely black and white rhinoceros horns.
Furthermore, they then falsified records in order to sell on some of the horns to third parties – in one case pocketing $50,000 from the sale of four horns to the owner of a tea house in the New York borough of Queens.
After an investigation involving An Garda Síochána, Sheridan was arrested at Holyhead in January 2015, after arriving on board a ferry from Dublin, and extradited to the US in September.
He pleaded guilty in November, and was sentenced yesterday to 12 months in prison, and fined $1,000 by US District Court judge Walter Smith in Waco, Texas.
Sheridan will be put on three years’ supervised release after serving his sentence.
For his part, Michael Slattery pleaded guilty to his role in the operation in January 2014, and received a 14-month sentence.
Reacting to yesterday’s sentence, the head of the US Fish and Wildlife Service, Dan Ashe, called endangered animal trafficking a “global scourge.”
The slaughter of incredible animals like the rhino driven by poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking is a global scourge, requiring global enforcement.
Working with law enforcement in countries across the world, we’re tracking, apprehending and extraditing criminals like Patrick Sheridan and his co-conspirators, no matter where they operate.
Today’s sentencing demonstrates that criminals who contribute to the slaughter of rhinos and other protected wildlife have nowhere to hide, and will inexorably face justice in the United States.
You can read the criminal indictment against Patrick Sheridan here.
Originally published 8.56pm