WACO, Texas (CN) – The owner of a taxidermy shop pleaded guilty to fudging his records after selling black rhinoceros horns to an Irish traveler among other non-Texas residents.
The one-count information against John Brommel, 53, charged him with making a false document in connection with interstate wildlife trafficking in violation of the Lacey Act.
A resident of Austin, Brommel owned and operated a taxidermy shop in that city for more than 25 years.
Prosecutors set their sights on Brommel after he was tied to a group Europol blamed for an epidemic of raids on museums in Europe involving the theft of rhinoceros horns.
One of Brommel’s customers, a Rathkeale Rover or Irish Traveler named Michael Slattery Jr., pleaded guilty in late 2013 to conspiracy to violate the Lacey Act.
The plea Brommel took on Thursday says that he sold the horns from the shoulder mount of a black rhinoceros to a group of Irish nationals that included Slattery.
Slattery was sentenced to serve 14 months in prison in January 2014.
U.S. District Judge Walter Smith Jr. took Brommel’s plea Thursday.
Though it has no known predators other than humans, the herbivorous rhinoceros is endangered because of escalating demand for its horn.
“More than 3,000 rhinos have been poached in South Africa alone since 2008, a more than 7,000 percent increase compared to the previous 17 years,” according to Justice Department records. “Last year, 1,215 rhinoceros were poached illegally in South Africa, the most on record.”
The government calls its efforts to prosecute rhino horn smugglers Operation Crash, using the term for a herd of rhinoceros.
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