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Limerick man jailed in US for trafficking endangered rhino horns

John Slattery was extradited to the US in May over charges relating to wildlife trafficking.

Rhino horn (file photo)
Rhino horn (file photo)
Image: PA

A LIMERICK MAN has been sentenced to one year in prison in the United States for trafficking the horns of endangered rhinos.

John Slattery (30), who is originally from Rathkeale, was extradited to the US in May after being accused of three offences of wildlife trafficking.

In 2014, a federal grand charged Slattery’s brother, Michael Slattery Jr. and a co-defendant, Patrick Sheridan with conspiring to traffic in horns from black rhinoceros.

Sheridan – also from Rathkeale – was jailed for a year for trafficking endangered rhino horns.

According to the US Department of Justice, Slattery was sentenced in a federal court in Waco, Texas yesterday, after pleading guilty on 7 July to conspiring to traffic horns from endangered black rhinoceros.

US authorities alleged that the three men travelled to a taxidermy shop in Austin, Texas, to buy the horns. It was alleged that the men bought the horns for $18,000 and then travelled to New York and sold them for $50,000.

The men were initially unable to buy the horns because they were not local residents so they enlisted the help of a Texas man – a “straw buyer” – to complete the purchase, according to US authorities.

They were further alleged to have been given an Endangered Species Bill of Sale, an unofficial document provided to customers who purchase endangered species, during the purchase, which they later modified and falsified.

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Slattery was found to have given the New York buyer the falsified Endangered Species Bill of Sale, which he and his co-conspirators had modified to make it look as if the sale in Texas was legal, when in fact, it was not.

Slattery admitted that he later offered the same individual ten rhinoceros horns, but that the sale was not completed.

In January 2014, Michael Slattery Jr. pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 14 months in prison for his role in the conspiracy.

Sheridan was extradited to the United States from the United Kingdom in September 2015, and later pleaded guilty before being sentenced to 12 months in prison.

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