Man from Ireland imprisoned for smuggling rhino horn
Sheetal Sukhija - Thursday 16th November, 2017
The man was sentenced to 18 months in prison in the U.S.
The Irish man was identified as 40-year-old Michael Hegarty
Hegarty was part of the international criminal gang the Rathkeale Rovers
DUBLIN, Ireland - Law enforcement officials in the U.S. have sentenced an Irish man to 18 months in prison for his role in smuggling rhinoceros horn.
The man, identified as 40-year-old Michael Hegarty is believed to be part of the international criminal gang the Rathkeale Rovers.
Hegarty pleaded guilty to the charges and was sentenced in a federal court in Miami.
The gang, Rathkeale Rovers has connections to the Limerick town.
Judge Donald Middlebrooks sentenced the Irish man to 18 months in prison, followed by three years of supervised release.
Along with Hegarty, another man identified as Richard Sheridan, and a third man from Florida, were initially charged with conspiring to traffic a libation cup made from endangered rhino horn.
They were also charged with conspiracy for smuggling the cup to the U.K. and with obstructing justice for attempting to influence a witness.
Hegarty’s arrest was part of a U.S.-wide crackdown on criminal trafficking in rhinoceros horn called Operation Crash.
Reports noted that other members of the gang were arrested in London as they were trying to sell the rhino horn cup to a Hong Kong native.
Under U.S. and international law, all species of rhinoceros are protected and since 1976, the trade in rhino horn has been regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.
Commenting on the arrests, Acting Chief of Law Enforcement Ed Grace said that the sentencing sent "a message to those who profit from the slaughter and illicit trade of wildlife, you will be caught and prosecuted no matter where you hide.”
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