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Irish man jailed in US for trafficking rhino horns

Richard Sheridan, who pleaded guilty, was sentenced to 14 months in prison.

File photo
File photo
Image: Shutterstock/kgo3121

AN IRISH MAN has been sentenced to 14 months in jail in the US for trafficking rhinoceros horns.

Richard Sheridan, who was extradited to the US in August, pleaded guilty and was yesterday sentenced at a Miami court for his role in trafficking a libation cup made from the horn of a protected rhinoceros.

Judge Jose E Martinez sentenced Sheridan to a term of 14 months in prison and two years of supervised release.

Libation cups were historically used on important ceremonial occasions.

Sheridan, a 50-year-old Irish national with an address at Cottenham, Cambridge in England, and another Irish man, Michael Hegarty, were charged with conspiracy to traffic the cup. Sheridan was also charged with smuggling the cup out of the US.

According to court documents, Sheridan and Hegarty purchased the cup from an auction house in Rockingham, North Carolina, in 2012 and then smuggled it out of the US.

Following his extradition to the US from Belgium, Hegarty pleaded guilty to conspiring with Sheridan to traffic in the libation cup. In November 2017, he was sentenced in federal court in Miami to 18 months in prison followed by three years of supervised release.

Endangered species 

Sheridan “conspired to profit from the demise of one of the world’s most endangered species”, Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey Bossert Clark, of the US Justice Department’s Environment and Natural Resources Division, said.

“We will continue to work with our international partners to fight the trade in protected and endangered species, and organized criminal enterprises associated with it,” he said.

Speaking about the case, Edward Grace, Assistant Director of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Office, said:

Combating transnational organised crime that involves the trafficking of some of the world’s’ most endangered species continues to be of the highest priority.

“This investigation is one more example of the accomplishments that can be achieved when investigators around the globe share information and collectively pursue those who attempt to profit from the illegal trade of wildlife.”

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Órla Ryan

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