New York Man Sentenced to 18 Months in Prison for Trafficking Exotic African Cats | OPA

 A New York gentleman was sentenced to 18 months in jail today in the Western

 A New York gentleman was sentenced to 18 months in jail today in the Western District of New York for violating the Lacey Act and the Animal Welfare Act by trafficking African wild cats.

Christopher Casacci, 39, of Amherst, was accomplishing business as “ExoticCubs.com,” by means of which he advertised, imported and marketed unique African cats. Among February and June of 2018, Casacci imported and marketed dozens of caracals (Caracal caracal) and servals (Leptailurus serval), for $7,500 to $10,000 each and every. Casacci claimed that he was operating as a significant cat rescue firm in an endeavor to stay clear of New York prohibitions towards possessing and providing wild animals. Casacci also falsified transportation paperwork to cover the genuine species of the cats, alternatively contacting the animals domestic crossbreeds, this sort of as Bengal cats or Savannah cats. Further, Casacci was not permitted to market the cats for the reason that he was not approved to do so beneath the Animal Welfare Act.

“Selling wild animals as animals not only breaks the regulation, but also endangers nearby communities and environments,” claimed Assistant Lawyer Common Todd Kim of the Justice Department’s Surroundings and Natural Methods Division (ENRD). “The Section of Justice is dedicated to protecting the general public and our indigenous wildlife from the irresponsible steps of wildlife traffickers.”

“The purpose of the Lacey Act and the Animal Welfare Act is to protect fish, wildlife and other animals, primarily people that may perhaps be endangered, from people who find to gain from trafficking,” explained U.S. Legal professional Trini E. Ross for the Western District of New York. “Enforcing these actions is essential to guarantee that animals, these as the exotic African cats in this circumstance, are safeguarded.”  

“Criminals who flout wildlife legal guidelines these kinds of as the Lacey Act set human beings and animals at excellent possibility,” reported Assistant Director Edward Grace of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s (USFWS) Business of Regulation Enforcement. “Wildlife trafficking is decimating the world’s purely natural means, so it is vital we work with our companions to place a prevent to these varieties of unlawful functions. This will support safeguard in opposition to threats to human health and fitness and safety and to native wildlife and their habitats and be certain future generations can love and reward from our cherished wild heritage.”

Caracals, also known as the “desert lynx,” are wild cats native to Africa that mature to around 45 lbs. Servals, also wild cats indigenous to Africa, expand to around 40 pounds. All of the animals were offered whilst however kittens and despite their dimension and wild mother nature, Casacci marketed them as “house pets.” The two species are secured underneath the Conference on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), and their business possession and sale is limited under New York point out law. Many kittens imported by Casacci died when in his care or days just after he bought them, and several are living kittens were being seized from Casacci during the investigation. The seized animals are now forever residing in just accredited animal sanctuaries.

Casacci was previously indicted for his actions in January of 2020. The investigation was performed by the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service’s Business office of Law Enforcement, less than the direction of Particular Agent in Charge Ryan Noel, and the New York State Section of Environmental Conservation, Bureau of Environmental Crimes Investigation.

The situation is becoming prosecuted by Demo Legal professional Patrick Duggan of the ENRD’s Environmental Crimes Part and Assistant U.S. Legal professional Aaron J. Mango of the Western District of New York.