US sends seized boa constrictors back to Brazil

2015-06-18 05:45


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Washington - The United States has returned to Brazil seven boa constrictors that are the offspring of a very rare white snake dubbed the "Diamond Princess" and were seized in connection with an illegal wildlife smuggling scheme, US officials said on Wednesday.

The valuable leucistic boa constrictor was unlawfully brought to the United States in 2009 by a Utah-based collector, the US Justice Department said in a statement.

"The return of the precious snakes to Brazil brings to an end this years-long international saga," US Assistant Attorney General Leslie Caldwell said in the statement.

"This case exhibited many of the hallmarks that make illegal wildlife trafficking a growing international scourge," she said.

The tale began in 2006 when firefighters in the Niterói district of Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state discovered the exceptionally scarce "Diamond Princess."

Also known as "Lucy," she was housed at the Niterói Zoo, a private foundation that rescues and rehabilitates wild animals.

The Justice Department said a Utah-based breeder and seller of reptiles, Jeremy Stone, visited Brazil in 2009, "secured possession of the snake and unlawfully returned with it back to the United States".

After learning Stone was marketing snakes bred from the "Diamond Princess," Brazil's government asked for US help to secure the return of the snake and any offspring.

When FBI agents went to Stone's property in Utah to seize the snakes, they learned the leucistic boa constrictor had died. Eight offspring were taken to Salt Lake City's Hogle Zoo, the statement said, where one later died.

Stone pleaded guilty last year to unlawfully transporting wildlife into the United States, the department said. As part of his plea agreement, he agreed to forfeit the boa's offspring to the United States, it said.

That court order was later amended to award the snake's seven surviving offspring to the government of Brazil.

Read more on:    brazil  |  us

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