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Friday, May 17, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Irishman Gets One Year for Rhino Horn Charges

(CN) - An Irish national was sentenced to a year in prison on Wednesday for illegal rhinoceros horn trafficking charges after being extradited to the United States last year, the government said.

Patrick Sheridan was arrested in the United Kingdom on Jan. 9, 2015, as he was getting off a ferry from Ireland, according to the U.S. Department of Justice. The United States had previously requested his arrest.

He was extradited last September as part of "Operation Crash," a law enforcement effort targeting the black market trade of rhinoceros horns and other protected species. The operation is named after the term for a herd of rhinos.

According to a 2014 indictment, Sheridan and co-defendant Michael Slattery Jr. used a straw buyer to purchase two black rhinoceros horns from a taxidermist in Texas before transporting the horns to New York. The group sold four rhinoceros horns in the Empire State, prosecutors say.

Slattery was arrested in September 2013 and he pleaded guilty two months later to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.

Sheridan and Slattery were also charged with making a fraudulent bill of sale for the rhinoceros horns, in an attempt to make the transaction look legal.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Director Dan Ashe said in a statement that "the slaughter of incredible animals like the rhino driven by poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking is a global scourge."

"Working with law enforcement in countries across the world, we're tracking, apprehending and extraditing criminals like Patrick Sheridan and his co-conspirators, no matter where they operate," Ashe said. "Today's sentencing demonstrates that criminals who contribute to the slaughter of rhinos and other protected wildlife have nowhere to hide, and will inexorably face justice in the United States."

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